When we launched The Polo App, we offered our members an unprecedented opportunity to choose which bear would be knit into history next on an iconic Polo Bear sweater. Competition between Ranch Bear, Racer Bear, Preppy Bear, and Collegiate Bear (none of whom had ever appeared on a sweater) was fierce, but ultimately, the pink-oxford-and–Polo Coat–wearing gentleman…er, gentle-bear, you see here was the winner.
Ever since, we’ve published periodic updates tracking his progress from sketch to sweater, which we’re assembling here into a single story of his journey of becoming.
CHAPTER 1: THE HAND OF THE ARTIST
STEP 1. Before he can be depicted in yarn, our bear must first be rendered as a sketch. Our in-house artist freehands a pencil drawing, using a light box to help capture all the details.
STEP 2. After a series of reviews, revisions, and much fine-tuning, the pencil sketch outline is filled in with color, ensuring the perfect tones and shades are captured before being re-created in yarn.
STEP 3. The drawing is then digitized and input into a computerized graphing system. Each square in the grid correlates to a specific stitch and a very precise color, creating a map for our in-house knitter to follow as she creates the first-ever Collegiate Bear rendered in yarn. More on that step next…
CHAPTER 2: FROM DIGITAL TO IRL
Once our Collegiate Bear has been illustrated and digitized to pixel perfection, he’s ready to be rendered in yarn, as a prototype for the way he’ll appear on a sweater.
STEP 1. Our design team scours the RL yarn room (a real thing) to find the perfect shade and weight of yarn for each nuance of the bear’s characteristics and outfit.
STEP 2. Using the digitized template as a guide, an experienced knitter breaks out her needles and gets to work. Each square on the printout correlates to a specific stitch, with a particular style of yarn and an even more specific color.
STEP 3. Roughly six hours of knitting later, the initial swatch is complete. From here, constant revisions to the bear’s proportions will be made until the design team gives their final approval. Then, it’s sent off to the factory, where each stitch is meticulously re-created, reviewed, and perfected as it is knit into an actual Polo sweater.
CHAPTER 3: THE ART OF BECOMING
Collegiate Bear’s latest adventure? A trip to our factory overseas (albeit in swatch form), where his distinctive stylistic details—pink oxford shirt, repp tie, “USA” crewneck, chinos, and iconic Polo Coat—are meticulously rendered in the finest lambswool. Here, a step-by-step of the final leg in the journey.
STEP 1. Once the swatch arrives at the factory, it’s re-created—once for each new sweater—using a multitude of carefully selected yarns sourced from all over the world. Each swatch is then added to the body of the sweater, and loose ends are tied up by hand to ensure that our bear—and your sweater—lives a long and happy life.
STEP 2. Intricate details are added by hand, from the texture of the bear’s eyes to the various colors of brown that give a feeling of dimension to his fur to the shadows on his overcoat. (Admittedly, the bit with the eyes can be a bit unsettling to watch, so we find it helpful to remind oneself that we’re talking about a sweater, not an actual bear…)
STEP 3. The signature “RL” monogram is applied by hand, in the same shade of pink as Collegiate Bear’s signature oxford shirt. Another example of our meticulous attention to detail that permeates the process.
STEP 4. The raised “USA” text across his chest, as well as details on his tie and belt and other finishing touches, are applied by machine, adding yet another level of refinement and dimension to his outfit.
And…voilà, our sweater is complete, ready to be packed up and sent on to our warehouse and—if you’re one of those lucky enough to get your hands on one—on to you.
CHAPTER 4: GRADUATION DAY
From here, Collegiate Bear is ready to quit the confines of the leafy back quad for the real world—aka your wardrobe. Post a pic of your best Collegiate Bear look using #POLOFANSTYLE and we just might feature you on the app!
- Photographs by Weston Wells