Ralph Lauren, the last of the “big three” American sportswear designers, is stepping down. First Calvin Klein sold his company in 2002. Then Donna Karan stepped down from designing duties earlier this year. Now Ralph Lauren is turning the reigns to “fast fashion” executive Stefan Larsson. What will happen to the Ralph Lauren brand?
Mr. Larsson made his name turning around Gap’s bargain Old Navy brand and turning H&M into a budget brand phenomenon. What impact will this new leadership mindset have on the Ralph Lauren brand? Will the Ralph Lauren brand take a step down when Mr. Larsson steps up?
The Ralph Lauren brand, as we have noted in the past, does an amazing job maintaining a luxury image selling $3000 dresses as it moves $10 socks at TJMaxx. The brand portfolio contains a mix of price points from the high end “Purple Label” to those socks in cellophane.
Before announcing his departure, Mr. Lauren had separated out its luxury business under the leadership of Valerie Hermann.
It will be interesting to see where the Ralph Lauren brand evolves next. Under two different executives, will the brand still be able to balance mass retail with luxury or will one side win?