Earlier this week the American Politics Journal accused Ralph Lauren of “morphing our [Olympic] athletes into unpaid billboards for the ‘Polo’ pony and rider.” The pony on the athletes’ blazers was just too big for that publication’s taste. But last night at an event he hosted at Cipriani to benefit an organization that supports Ukrainian orphans, Mark Ecko said that pony was probably paid for. “[Ralph Lauren] probably paid a ton of money for that license. I mean, people don’t realize — and I’m not saying that it’s right — but the Olympic license … he had to pay for that. So, it’s no different than a big HP commercial or a big ‘Brought to you by Visa’ in between the spots.” Ah, the magic of licensing! Ecko continued, “He was trying to get credit probably for the fact that he designed it. I don’t know — I don’t think it’s that much of a controversy. If they saw a swoosh, would they have said anything? If they saw Adidas’ three stripes, would they have said anything? Somehow it’s okay for a sports brand.” Touché.
And if Ecko were designing the uniforms, he’d do the same thing as Ralph Lauren. “If it was me, there’d have been a big-ass Rhino [Ecko logo] on there. If it was me, I would have made sure people knew. You know what I mean? I think that’s a part of the idea of the licensing agreement. And then he’s got the ability to go resell it, I believe. I bet you that stuff is even in the stores right now.” It sure is! A call to Ralph Lauren’s Madison Avenue store confirmed it. What’s more, those Olympics threads have almost sold out. Or at least the offending blazers that retail for a cool $695, of which there are only two left. —Alisa Gould-Simon