Ralph Lauren is known worldwide for his colorful Polo shirts and other apparel designs. Because of the popularity of his designer merchandise, fakes abound. You may encounter them on Internet auction sites, at second-hand stores or in boutiques that carry counterfeit items. Learn to recognize the small yet important details that distinguish the real deals from the knockoffs.
Scrutinize the price. Genuine Ralph Lauren items aren't cheap. If it's too good to be true, it is.
Turn the shirt inside-out. Carefully examine the stitching and the finish of the embroidered Polo logo. Fakes are typically sloppily finished, with loose threads and the lack of backing material.
Turn the shirt right side out and look at placement of the polo player logo. Authentic items feature the horse and rider slightly lower than the placket, centered on the wearer's left side.
Examine the label. Authentic Ralph Lauren items use the same color stitching to apply the label as found on the rest of the shirt. For example, if the shirt is red, the thread securing the label is red as well. Additionally, fakes feature type fonts that are usually larger or off-center when compared to an original.
Examine the stitching throughout the piece. All stitches should be uniformly sized, straight and with no gaps.
Look carefully at the shoulder seams, inside and out. Stitches securing sleeves to the shirt's body should never be visible unless the shirt is turned inside-out. Additionally, the seam where it meets the body is firmly stitched with a joining piece of fabric if the piece is authentic.
Authentic Ralph Lauren items feature buttons with brand imprinting and sharp defined edges. They are usually thicker than fake ones.
Feel the shirt, if possible. Fakes are often stiffer -- especially the collar -- and use a lower-grade, grainier fabric when compared to real items.
If you aren't buying the piece from a traditional outlet, such as a department store, chances are high you're looking at a potential fake.