Nacho Figueras: A Noble Sport
Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras proves athletes are more than just brawn and beauty—now he wants you to join him as a spectator on the polo field. Meet the sport’s dashing archetype in his element at Bridgehampton’s Two Trees Farm. Photographs by Candy Kennedy. Styled by Gisella Lemos. Video by Giorgio Arcelli Fontana.
Soccer has David Beckham and tennis has Roger Federer. And for the past two decades, polo has had Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras—the sport’s tireless prophet and most charming leading man.
Perhaps best known to those in the United States as the face of Ralph Lauren Black Label or the designer’s Polo fragrances, 35-year-old Figueras has spent much of his career with an eye toward popularizing the sport of polo. “There is a lot of history of polo being popular in America in the 1920s and ’30s,” Figueras explains. “It’s just a question of putting it back on people’s agendas and making them feel invited.” And becoming a model for one of the most recognized all-American heritage brands is just one way he’s doing it.
Figueras grew up on a small farm in Veinticinco de Mayo, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina in the late 1970s, and started playing polo at the age of nine. He turned pro by age 17, and subsequently moved around Europe to make a name for himself in the game. He settled in Bridgehampton, New York in 1999 to join White Birch, a team then owned by businessmen Peter Brant and Neil Hirsch. A year later, Figueras started modeling for Ralph Lauren, but it wasn’t until he was appointed as a brand ambassador for the Black Label line in 2005 that Figueras got his first major shot at ushering the sport into the North American limelight.
“I made it my mission to make the sport of polo more accessible and more popular,” he says. “It has been fun and a great thing to do, but it’s plenty of work. And I think slowly, little by little, people have been paying more attention to polo, and I think that it will continue to grow.”
Organizing several polo tournaments with high-profile attendees and players—Prince Harry famously beat Figueras in a match on Governors Island during his first official visit to the United States in 2009—has most certainly helped increase the visibility of the game locally. It has also brought Black Watch—Figueras’s team, officially sponsored by the Ralph Lauren brand—some added exposure within both the polo league and fashion industry.
Yet, for all his aspirations to breed a new business within the game, Figueras’s passion remains fundamental: “The thing that I love the most about the sport are the horses,” he says. “The relationship, that interaction. The great thing about horses is that they don’t judge you—if you like them, they like you.” Considering Figueras cites two weeks as the longest amount of time he’s ever spent off a horse, it’s no surprise the bond runs so deep: “More than that and you’re giving [your competitors] too much advantage.”
And in a matter of moments, Figueras is back in the saddle, prepping for a new season of Bridgehampton polo at Two Trees Farm. With the success of the recent opening day party he co-hosted with Ferrari and Peter Brant already behind him, he’ll have the rest of the summer to ride toward his goal. —Sasha Levine (@sashalevine)
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