Gay Uncle Brett Berk: Fashion designer Ralph Lauren has come up with a charming new marketing tool for his line of fancy children's clothing, and you should check it out now -- if only to file it away in that folder you keep called "Items Indicative of the Approach of the End Times."
this revolutionary item, you ask? Well, it's a live-action/animated online storybook about the first day of school at an adventurous (and relatively adult-free) educational institution. Dubbed "The RL Gang: A Fantastically Amazing School Adventure," it features a multiethnic cast of adorable child models -- wearing adorable Ralph Lauren
duds, of course -- and is narrated by none other than Harry Connick, Jr.
Wait ... what?!
Yes: Instead of (or perhaps as a supplement to) the avalanche of commercials, billboards and direct-mail catalogs that typically mark the start of the back-to-school shopping
season extravaganza, the inventive folks over at Ralphie's house came up with a new (and bizarrely mesmerizing) means of pushing their upscale -- and eminently outgrowable -- youth line. Just head on over to the website
, watch the gorgeously shot story unfold in beautiful (water)color, and then (if you happen to be interested in any of the fashion-meets-Fauntleroy duds that the "RL Gang" youngsters happen to be wearing as they muck about in their charmingly unsupervised reverie) just click on the cute kid whose look you like, and you can order the elements that make up the outfit. (You can order a print copy of the actual book, as well.)
As someone who has worked in the field of youth-market research for the past dozen years, I have to applaud the Polo people for appropriating one of the best-loved and most nostalgia-inducing forms of literature -- the children's picture book -- and turning it into a form of consumer outreach. What (wealthy) parent wouldn't fall victim to this sweet tale of environmental rejuvenation, which features what is very likely the best-looking group of preschoolers assembled this side of a Jolie-Pitt birthday party (all dressed in durable sueded, flannelled, feathered, tweedy and downy glory)? If they made these clothes in adult sizes, I would order matching sets of everything for myself, and fantasize that I was going off to some worry-free camp or institution (rehab?).
If you're a wealthy preppy who longs for an ersatz and imagined past consisting of a genial, elite, multicultural hegemony -- or you just like a good laugh -- you should click on over right now.