Ralph Lauren and the luxury malaise

I commented recently (on RetailWire) on the problems faced by the new CEO at Ralph Lauren. How to be more nimble and efficient while also protecting an iconic brand? Here are a few thoughts:

This is a complex challenge, because the Lauren brand equity has been weakened over the past several years. I believe customers are confused by the price/quality relationship between Ralph Lauren, Lauren, Polo Ralph Lauren and subsidiary brands like Chaps. It doesn’t help matters that the growth of outlet store business has further commoditized the brand.

Smarter sourcing (cheaper and faster) is something that the new CEO can bring to the table…but are quicker lead times really meaningful for iconic items like polos and navy blazers? And will “taking out costs” also mean compromising quality? These are big questions that will complicate the job of restoring some clarity and “polish” to the RL brand.

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