Introducing the Ralph Lauren × Revolution & The Rake “Snow Beach Bear Watch”
The Ralph Lauren Snow Beach collection and its legendary parka took the hip-hop world by storm in the early ’90s. Our latest collaboration pays tribute to that seismic moment in modern style.
In a downtown Brooklyn street in 1993, Raekwon (aka Corey Woods) from the Wu-Tang Clan rocked up to the set of the video shoot for the group’s single “Can It Be All So Simple” wearing a unique and distinctive yellow and blue parka emblazoned with the hot pink words “Snow Beach,” and one of the most seminal moments in hip-hop style was born. The jacket was created in that same year by America’s poet laureate of style, Ralph Lauren, as the central piece to his new vision for urban sportswear inspired by the loose fitting parkas worn by snowboarders.
The collection — with a riotous explosion of primary colors that brought to mind the Color Field work of artists Barnett Newman and Frank Stella — was a revelation. For the first time, athletic wear had descended from the slopes to take center stage on the streets of New York.
Says The Rake’s editor-in-chief Tom Chamberlin, “Snow Beach brought a whole new generation and demographic to Ralph Lauren with its freshness and youthful energy. It was a wonderful example of how Lauren constantly invented all-new modes of dress.
“Without Snow Beach, we would not have the popularization of athletic wear and streetwear and their dominance of runway styles today.”
Snow Beach exploded in popularity and gained such a cult following that even today vintage parkas from the 1993 collection or the re-edition version of these jackets launched in 2018 go for secondary prices five times their original cost, if you are lucky enough to find one. But more than that, Snow Beach showed the world that there were no limits to style, that what you wear at play or during sports could be equally relevant at a work or even at a sophisticated dinner if you wore it with that signature brand of Ralph Lauren nonchalant cool.
To say I have a slight obsession with Snow Beach and for the seismic moment in modern style it represents would be an understatement. So when an opportunity to team up with Ralph Lauren on our third timepiece collaboration came up, I knew exactly what I wanted — a Snow Beach watch.
But while the idea of emblazoning a timepiece with the Snow Beach logo and colors was highly appealing, Ralph Lauren had an even cooler idea in mind. To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Snow Beach, what if it was to merge universes with another Ralph Lauren icon, the Polo Bear?
The roots of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bear go back to the late 1980s, when his team presented Lauren and his wonderfully effusive and elegant brother Jerry with Steiff teddy bears modeled on them and dressed in outfits made by the Ralph Lauren factories that created their menswear.
Lauren was so charmed by these bears he decided to offer them in a limited series of 200 in 1991. Even before the age of the Internet, buzz about the bears spread through New York like wildfire, with every Ralph Lauren devotee making a beeline for the Rhinelander mansion flagship in Manhattan, where they sold out over the weekend.
Because the bears were made by Steiff, and, like his personal bear, wore clothing (specifically, gray flannel pleated trousers, a woven leather belt, and a blue Oxford button-down shirt), they were limited in supply. Foreseeing the popularity of this new symbol for his brand, Lauren also emblazoned his likeness on clothing, including the iconic Polo Bear sweater, which depicted the Bear wearing an American flag sweater.
This sweater is to this day known as the “Iconic Polo Bear Sweater.” From 1991 to 2001, the Polo Bear enjoyed a decade of sartorial dominance, and everything he graced became the object of cult collectibility.
The Holy Grail among these is the so-called “Never-Ending Bear” sweater, which features the Polo Bear wearing a Polo Bear sweater of the Bear wearing the Polo Bear sweater, and so on. You get it.
The Polo Bear was depicted in everything, including a Western fringe jacket, a beret, striped T-shirt and espadrilles, collegiate preppy clothing under a camel Polo coat, RLX ski gear, and my favorite, a magnificent evening suit replete with monogrammed evening slippers and a martini. To be correct, I should note that the Polo Bear actually has three black-tie ensembles: a classic black, a white dinner jacket with black trousers, and a jaunty Black Watch tartan jacket that he pairs with louche red socks for extra panache.
To borrow from Walt Whitman, the Polo Bear was large. He contained multitudes.
Indeed, his incredible style, which became a catalog of Ralph Lauren’s most iconic looks, demonstrated how infinitely varied yet appealing the Ralph Lauren world was. In each instance the Bear looked cool, beatific, successful and friendly.
And, most importantly, regardless of your age, ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic demographic, he made you smile.
In 2001, the partnership with Steiff came to an end, and with it the use of the Polo Bear on Ralph Lauren clothing. But by that time, Polo Bear clothing had taken on a life of its own, particularly in the hip-hop community and most notably with Kanye West, who almost exclusively wore the clothing throughout the launch of his seminal College Dropout album in 2004.
(The cover even featured West depicted as a preppy bear.) By 2013, the demand for all things Polo Bear inspired his return to the Ralph Lauren visual lexicon, where he remains more popular than ever.
Indeed, the Polo Bear collaborations, with brands such as Palace Skateboards, have become some of the most sought-after and desirable objects around. The Palace × Ralph Lauren Skate Polo Bear sweater (I had two of these, and gave one to the editor of this magazine and the other to our CEO) almost caused the Internet to explode upon launch, and now commands a massive premium on the secondary market, if you can find one.
Snow Beach Bear
With a love for both the Snow Beach collection and the Polo Bear, it seemed only natural that our conversation with Ralph Lauren steered toward the ultimate “what if?”. What if we were to make a Snow Beach Bear watch, where the legendary Polo Bear in his triumphant sartorial style would be wearing the iconic Snow Beach parka while catching air (yes, that’s a little wink to the Palace Polo Bear sweater) on the dial of our watch?
To complement the electric blue background, we even created a Snow Beach NATO-style strap! The result is one of the coolest collaborations Revolution and The Rake have ever created and we would like to thank Ralph Lauren for the honor of this project.
As you might know, The Rake recently celebrated its 15th anniversary and we could think of no better way to celebrate than with this watch.
But that’s not all. In the process of our conversation with Ralph Lauren, we began to discuss another “what if?”.
What if we could package the watch with the ultimate sports accessory, a pair of wraparound blue mirrored, high performance sunglasses that had just the right elements to make them elegant enough to be worn on the streets as well? We selected one of Ralph Lauren’s signature frame shapes in elegant tortoiseshell and then added high performance nose pieces to them so they would always stay in place even when worn jogging or bicycling.
Says Chamberlin, “These small but important details make these glasses incredibly adaptable.” We then added the signature Snow Beach arms and even threw in a super cool double-sided Snow Beach sports strap so you can wear the glasses around your neck.
The watch and glasses will come together in a special Snow Beach presentation box replete with stickers for you to decorate your board, luggage or laptop. Shop the Ralph Lauren × Revolution & The Rake “Snow Beach Bear Watch” here.
Ralph Lauren × Revolution & The Rake “Snow Beach Bear Watch”
Movement: Self-winding Sellita-based caliber RL200; 38-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Case: 42mm; stainless steel; water resistant to 50m
Dial: Lacquered electric blue with chemin de fer minute track; black Arabic numerals
Strap: Snow Beach NATO-style fabric; stainless steel pin buckle
Price: USD 1,850 excl. taxes
Availability: Limited edition of 300 pieces, presented in a Snow Beach box with blue mirrored, high performance sunglasses, double-sided Snow Beach sports strap, and stickers
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FROM THE ARTICLE
|Automatic Swiss movement, made by Sellita
|Hours, minutes, central second, crown at 2 o’clock
|Stainless steel, polished
|Lacquered Electric Blue
|The watch will come on a fabric SNOW BEACH nylon strap
|Limited edition of 300 pieces