Give it a try: how the rugby jersey became a must-have property | Fashion

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Yesyouve heard of limited edition sneakers and owning the ‘good’ smartphone as a crucial social currency for young people in their twenties, but what about rugby jerseys? The sports staple, beloved by private schoolchildren and David Hockney, is reappearing as a cult classic with most in demand those with previous owner status and, perhaps, a patch of grass or two.

Rugby shirts are very popular on second-hand clothing platforms, as advocates of this trend seek out limited edition styles and cult classics from brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren and Gant.

Second-hand clothing platform Depop, which claims 90% of its users are under 26, has reported a 40% increase in rugby jersey sales since July, with Benetton and Ralph Lauren being the most popular brands for change hands.

The Beyond Retro second hand store, which sells pre-loved fashion through its east London stores and online, has also noticed an uptake as rugby jerseys replace vintage football stripes as the style of most wanted sportswear.

Artist David Hockney wears a rugby jersey in Los Angeles in 1978. Photograph: Michael Childers / Corbis

“The high demand for this shirt is linked to the resurgence of the preppy look we’ve seen over the past few months,” says Viviana Attard, head of global curation for Depop. Attard also attributes a post-pandemic appetite for looser, less structured clothing to interest in pre-loved bands. Away from the second-hand market, rugby jerseys are being scavenged from inventory as brands seek to bring their aptitude for good old-fashioned sportswear to a new generation of consumers. Among them is the American label Gant, which has found its Ivy League aesthetic woefully outdated in recent years, to emerge in 2021 with a new relaxed image in which the rugby jersey plays a prominent role.

Cult skateboarder brands such as Palace and Supreme are also joining the fray – both have released sold-out styles that continue to change hands in the second-hand market.

“Rugby shirts have been overlooked over the years,” says men’s stylist Edgar Johnson. “Whether the brands bring them back with a sense of irony or not, it’s a relief to see sportswear that isn’t a revamped football strip gaining attention.”

M&S were less concerned with symbolism when they decided to revive the dormant St Michael’s brand with a rugby jersey featuring the logo. The revival, unveiled in September, is a marketing ploy aimed at younger consumers and follows the discovery that clothes with St Michael on the label are in demand on resale sites.

M&S bosses are hopeful that Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa, who were recently spotted pledging allegiance to the egg-shaped ball, will help boost sales.

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