tackle fashion industry news too often but when it effects a fashion behemoth like
Ralph Lauren virtually everyone should take notice. The shakeup revolves around
their now former CEO Stefan Larsson who after less than two years in the top
seat is leaving the company citing differences with the founder Ralph Lauren
over the creative direction of the company. Larsson was supposed to be the
shakeup that the company needed with its stagnant sales growth and an aging
customer base. Who better than a veteran of two trendy brands like H&M and
Old Navy to pump some new life into the 50-year-old brand. To put it simply a
culture clash ensued that many could and probably should have seen coming. Larsson
while used to running highly successful apparel brands comes from the complete opposite
end of the fashion spectrum. Old Navy and H&M are not known as luxury
brands whereas Ralph Lauren is. The $80-90 spent at Ralph Lauren may get you a
polo shirt compared to a full outfit from Old Navy or H&M for the same
amount. Two very different companies servicing to very different consumer
bases. The initial hire sent out a message to the fashion industry that it
probably never intended primarily that Ralph Lauren was moving away from luxury
and retooling to go after the budget apparel category. Whether or not this was
their intention it sure seemed to be the case with Larsson at the wheel cutting
costs by shutting stores, improving supply chains and sales, sales and more
sales with very deep discounts in 2016 particularly thru their retail website. What
we can take away from this is that Ralph Lauren is looking to retool its brands
but is not willing or interested in degrading its brands prestige or quality.
Expect to see a refocus on quality goods, less sales and less merchandise in
general saturating the market. Who’s to say Ralph Lauren will not take a page
or two out of Coach’s playbook for reinvigorating the brand like bringing in
new designers with edgier products after all Ralph Lauren’s intern head honcho
is Jane Nielsen a former Coach executive.
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