The founder and CEO of arguably the nation’s most iconic brand, Ralph Lauren has announced his plans to step down. The luxury apparel company, founded in 1967, had humble origins. Lauren grew his brand from a single showroom to an international retail empire.
The classic silhouette for Polo Ralph Lauren’s logo is universally recognized; from classic t-shirts to floor-length gowns, the company covers a diverse aestheticrange catering to the needs of consumers throughout the world. Ralph Lauren solidified his status of national importance when he designed the preppy uniform for our Olympic athletes, dressing them in a smart uniform of navy blazers and white newsboy caps. The designer and CEO responsible for the growth and success of this company is none other than the visionary Ralph Lauren himself, who’s approaching his brand’s 50th anniversary.
At 75, he’s still a powerhouse. From holographic fashion shows in Manhattan to gala dinners at Windsor Castle, Lauren constantly makes headlines in the luxury goods industry, as well as in popular culture.
On Sept. 29, Mr. Lauren stirred headlines by naming the next successor to his chief executive position. Swedish-born Stefan Larsson, president of Old Navy and former executive at H&M, plans to continue Ralph Lauren’s legacy. The two had met at a private dinner in New York City, and over time, Lauren admired Larsson’s drive and ability to grow businesses, as well as empathize with people. At his time at H&M, Larsson and his executive team contributed to the retail company’s rise in revenue of nearly $14 billion dollars. He’s proved to be a savvy businessman and capable leader, and investors applauded Ralph Lauren’s choice. Yet Lauren reminds us not to mistake his step down as retirement; rather, he calls Larsson’s future position as sort of partnership. Larsson will frequently report to Ralph Lauren, seek advice and work together to continue the brand’s success. Ralph Lauren will merely take a less active role in the business aspect of the company.
Though this is a major move for Ralph Lauren, we don’t expect much of a change in the brand’s quintessential American look. Lauren will remain the creative director of the brand, maintaining the classic, Wild-West-meets-city-chic quality of his clothing. The designer showcases his usual broad range of styles, from long, suede skirts to black leather dresses in the 2016 resort collection.
Apart from haute couture, Lauren has created Denim and Supply, Polo Sport and Polo for Women in the past two years, to boost the falling sales seen across the board in luxury markets. Larsson shares Lauren’s drive and ambition and plans to expand the company to East Asia. Both Larsson and Lauren believe that with a greater online presence and entry into Chinese markets, the company can experience an upward trend in sales once again.
Photo courtesy of USA Today.