The brand that has represented classic American style for nearly 50 years is striving to expand its global presence. Ralph Lauren, the founder and CEO of the eponymous fashion empire, recently announced that he will hand over the title of CEO to Stefan Larsson—President of Old Navy and a former H&M executive—in November 2015. While Mr. Lauren remains as Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, driving all aspects of design, the addition of Mr. Larson, a fast-fashion expert, is intended to bring a “fresh and exciting global perspective,” one that will help the luxury label flourish among today’s fast-paced, worldwide consumers.
In an effort to integrate its multi-label fashion house, Ralph Lauren is adopting a new global brand management business model. In April 2015, former EVP Christopher H. Peterson stepped into the newly created position of President, Global Brands. The Ralph Lauren veteran—who helped unite Procter & Gamble’s regional organizations—will play a central role in the transformation. Ralph Lauren hopes its restructuring efforts will reap savings, especially given a 44 percent drop in shares this year, while positioning the company to maximize its potential in global markets.
As the brand makes positive changes within, its also keeping the evolving wants of today’s customers top-of-mind. Ralph Lauren became an innovator in the wearable technology sector with PoloTech, which was developed in partnership with the biometric smartwear company OMsignal and made its retail debut this August. Ralph Lauren touted the shirt at the 2014 US Open as “the first item of tech apparel introduced by a mainstream fashion label.” Conductive silver threads subtly woven into a nylon Polo shirt measure an athlete’s heart rate and track his or her performance. This refined effort to make technology more personal is just one of the ways Ralph Lauren is attempting to win over tech-savvy early adopters.
Weaving its way into consumers’ lives remains a priority for Ralph Lauren, as evidenced by the opening of its Polo Bar Restaurant in New York City and the release of its Ralph’s Coffee brand. With a fast-fashion veteran poised to take over and a new global brand-management business model taking shape, Ralph Lauren appears prepared to offer new brand experiences—while remaining true to its classic American heritage.