Today, I’d like to welcome Mr Mark Large to the Heritage Standard blog. I discovered Mark on Instagram via a hashtag, #RRL and to be honest he pretty much owns it. His page simply states ‘Collector of Ralph Lauren’ and it’s obvious from the start that he’s immensely creative with fabrics, textures and colours. Named as one of the top denimheads to follow by Denim Hunters, it’s easy to see why.
Where do you source most of your clothes?
I buy clothes from everywhere. In London I go to the RRL store on Mount Street or Ralph Lauren on Bond Street mostly, although I also shop in Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods. I usually go to these shops for key pieces I know I want, but for bargains I love TK Maxx, you never know what you’re going to find and over the years I’ve picked up some fantastic bits. I also make regular journeys to the Ralph Lauren outlets around London (or anywhere I’m visiting if I get a chance) but I would say I buy most of my pieces from eBay USA, I find I can get items there that aren’t available here and at a good price too.
You’ve carved yourself a name as one of the big collectors of Ralph Lauren’s various ranges, what was your first experience with RL and how did this devotion develop to where it is now?
Nice choice of words there, my wife would say obsession rather than devotion! I remember visiting Leeds years ago (I went shopping there regularly) at the time there was a trend for cotton Polo golf jackets in pastel shades, this wasn’t my thing really, but I picked one off the rail to show a friend and found the back was embroidered with a fantastic Hawaiian surfing picture, this really got my attention! From there I think I started buying a lot of RL when The Duffer of St George started stocking it. I’d been buying from Duffer since I was about 16, their stock and style really fitted in with my mod beliefs and the Polo pastel shirts, t-shirts, shorts and sweaters of that season really hit a preppy key that I loved!
My tastes have changed over the years, or maybe grown because although I still love the sharp mod/preppy look I also love workwear, denim, western etc. and I’m influenced by all eras from the 1920s to the 1960s. Since about the age of 16 I’ve loved a suit and I think when I first started buying Ralph Lauren, Polo were producing suits you just couldn’t get elsewhere and the way they were dressing them up, collar bars, key chains, silk squares etc. well I just couldn’t resist, I was hooked!
How has / does your work influence(d) your image and vice versa?
I suppose my work, I am a decorator, has influenced my choices in the past. I think day to day being in overalls and doing a messy job made me enjoy dressing in sharp suits, distancing myself from the day to day if you like. Nowadays I’m happy in workwear, I own a lot of intentionally distressed clothes, paint splashes, tears, oddly patched etc. I’ve even got an RRL painters smock that is covered in paint- ironic really- I’ve certainly had a few comments from the guys at work about that one!
I go with the flow though, do what I feel, one day preppy, the next denim, maybe even throw in a suit here and there.
Describe your style, what key items do you like to source?
That’s difficult! I have so many influences, different eras, they all just combine to produce my style. I’m also influenced by people I see, there are some pretty cool people out there.
I do like a coat or jacket, they can add some really nice texture and colour to a look. I also like hats, of every type and shape, they can add so much to an outfit. I’m a sucker for shoes/boots, a good quality shoe will last a lifetime, I wore a pair of Church’s the other day, the receipt was in the box, I bought them in 1992, I remember being conscious of the price, £152, but I think they’ve paid me back by now!
My wife also just pointed out to me I should mention jewellery. With the jewellery aspect, I like unusual pieces, even going so far as designing pieces myself and having them made and obviously buying vintage pieces.
What are your 3 favourite things to wear and 3 favourite things you’ve found?
It changes all the time but it would always be a coat, a pair of shoes and a suit. I have a Southwestern/Navajo double breasted belted shawl collar coat that is in my opinion pretty special, it’s so heavy and warm, it’s definitely a stand out item and as 1 of a limited run of 75, quite rare. I love hiking boots and have a few pairs but I’m going for my Church’s Shanghai spectators, with a suit and fedora they definitely do the job!
I’ve worn suits from being a youth, Saturday nights back in the day were always formal attire nights for me. I love RL Purple Label and RRL suits, Purple Label are pretty dandy looking which I love but I’m going for a 3-piece double breasted blue pinstripe which just has a great vintage look with its extra wide lapels, Al Capone eat your heart out!
Amongst other things I’ve found a £350 varsity sweater in TK Maxx for £13, an RRL cowboy shirt for £10 in an outlet and a varsity cardigan in the same outlet for £15, I love a saving and quite often the things I like are a bit garish so I get them cheap as no one else wants them.
What item of clothing means the most to you?
I’ve got memories of lots of bits, for various reasons, gifts from my wife very special prices or maybe worn for a certain event.
We had a very quiet wedding in Las Vegas and I dressed down (plain linen pants and grandad shirt) so when we went back to renew our vows on our 13th anniversary I dressed up. I had WW2 style RAF uniform made, complete with original badges, I would say this means the most to me.
What role do you think denim and in particular jeans play in todays world?
Denim is irreplaceable in today’s world. Almost everyone has a pair of jeans nowadays, every tribe, from hipsters, to rockabillies, to punks, to the mainstream, and lots of social boundaries have been broken down, we even wear them to the office. Even though it’s a mass market, certain cuts, colour, shape and brands still manage to stand out, you could pass somebody in the street and notice a detail or two that would draw the eye. The options are endless, even after over a century of use new innovations are being explored! Although for me it’s a vintage style/cut every time!
You seem quite into the Vintage/Burlesque scene, how does this influence your choice or is it the other way around?
Yes, Helen and myself spend a lot of time on the burlesque scene. There’s a great vintage scene going on which goes hand in hand with burlesque. It would seem at odds to me to go to an event which fully embraces a bygone era to then wear modern looking clothes for it. Personally I like to dress up for a big burlesque night out; fedora, suit, spectator shoes, the whole nine yards and lets face it, you can never be overdressed on this scene because people really go for it. It’s a great chance to put all those little details together, lapel flower, watch chain, silk square etc. and as I’ve already said I do love a suit.
I admire your ability to combine colours and textures most would never think of, how do you achieve this?
Thanks, I don’t think I can put it into words really, if I think something might go I try it. I’ve always loved bold and bright colours, always been drawn to them and I’m happy wearing them. I realise its not for everyone but I’m happy so I’ll keep at it!
How do you plan an outfit – where do you start the look?
If I’ve bought something new then I’ll start with it and build around it. Generally If I fancy wearing a specific item I’ll work from there to create the image of what’s in my head. I’m lucky, I have a bit of choice in most items so its not too hard to find a good mix. I like to try different variations also, try not to just go with a previous look, although some combinations in the past I’ve really liked so I’ll do it again, why not!
Are you going to reveal the size of your wardrobe storage space?
Sure I’ll give you a look, but I have been warned about ‘the deadly duo’!
How do you like your eggs?
Easy… In a cheese omelette with chips and toast and a can of coke, I’m known for it!!!
To find out more about Mark, see his instagram @1lrg