And Just Like That…She Was Gone
by Jon Behm · Published · Updated
Well that blows. Shortly after announcing that she would be co-headlining this year’s Taste of Minnesota, R&B star Janelle Monae has now cancelled due to unknown reasons. With the Balkan Beat Box injury that makes for two of my most anticipated summer shows cancelled/rescheduled.
— Jon Behm
THRIVING LICENSES.(Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.)
WWD May 14, 2002 | Larson, Kristin With close to 40 licenses ranging from women’s sportswear and men’s jeans to home furnishings and paint, Ralph Lauren has expanded his reach far beyond his entrance into the fashion world some 35 years ago with a men’s necktie.
Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s, recalled that tie, which Lauren created at the behest of designer Beau Brummel, as the start of a success story: “We were the first store to carry Ralph, and everything he has done has been smart, clever and well designed. Any license that Ralph does is successful and has been successful because the image is what sells. Ralph is selling his lifestyle as opposed to an item, and he does it better than anyone.” David Wolfe, creative director at The Doneger Group, a New York-based retail buying office, said, “Personally, I feel he was responsible for upgrading the taste level of designer home furnishings because he maintained this sense of integrity. [Companies] like Pottery Barn owe a lot to what he did; even something as traditional as L.L. Bean has a designer cachet because Ralph Lauren made American style into something classy. There’s really no other word.” Industry sources said the Polo Ralph Lauren licenses have generally performed well because Lauren has stayed focused on creating a lifestyle brand. Then again, the licenses go a long way toward building the brand, represented in well-honed and highly familiar images ranging from polo players engaged in a heated match to cable-knit sweaters emblazoned with the American flag to Lauren himself, decked out in a cowboy hat and a pair of the company’s jeans and shot against the backdrop of a sprawling ranch. In 1972, the Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. expanded its presence into accessories and footwear, as well as boys’ wear and fragrances, followed by the home collection debut in 1983, making Lauren the first fashion designer to launch a full-fledged home collection — including bedding, towels, area rugs, wall coverings and tabletop and table coverings. In the following years, the home collection expanded to include furniture, lighting and carpeting. In 1995 came the Ralph Lauren paint collection, featuring hues with such names as “Dinner Jacket,” “Equestrien Green” and “Duke’s Vineyard.” Some of the company’s other licensed businesses include: women’s sportswear under Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Polo Jeans, men’s and women’s fragrances, handbags; jewelry, children’s apparel and eyewear. Its largest licensing partners in the nine-month period ended December 2001 were: Jones Apparel Group, which produces the women’s Lauren and Ralph sportswear; New York-based WestPoint Stevens Inc., for bedding and bath, and the Tokyo-based Seibu Department Stores Ltd., which oversees distribution of products in Japan.
Overall, the company’s licenses are spread over 16 product, 10 home collection and eight international licensing partners as of March 2001. For fiscal 2001, global wholesale net sales for Polo Ralph Lauren products were $2.06 billion, or 43.3 percent, for men’s wear and $1.19 billion, or 25.1 percent, for women’s wear. Accessories tallied 9.2 percent, home collections accounted for 8.4 percent and fragrance came to 8.1 percent. website ralph lauren coupon
While separate financial figures for the licenses were not available, the licensed Polo brands were listed as a bright spot for Jones Apparel during the company’s first quarter ending April 6. According to president Peter Boneparth, who assumes the chief executive officer post May 22, the Lauren by Ralph Lauren lines continue to perform strongly at department stores across the country, such as Federated, May Co., Dillard’s, Marshall Field’s, Nordstrom, Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers, Belk and Parisian. The misses’ division of Lauren by Ralph Lauren is in more than 1,000 doors, while the petite and plus-size divisions are in 500 doors, a Jones spokesman said. As for Polo Jeans, the women’s business continues to be strong, while the men’s operation remains difficult, Boneparth said. To correct the situation in men’s, the line will be repositioned away from its current hip-hop orientation, he said. The men’s and women’s divisions are in 1,400 doors each.
But the licensing road hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Polo Ralph Lauren — particularly in regard to its fragrances.
While the Lauren by Ralph Lauren and Polo for men fragrances launched in 1978, a breakthrough didn’t occur until 1994 with the launch of Polo Sport, followed by the chart-topping Romance in 1998 — which made the biggest impact – and last year’s winner, Glamorous. There were flops along the way, though, from Chaps, a mass market men’s fragrance, to Tuxedo and Monogram. L’Oreal owns the fragrance license today, but it was initially handled by Warner Lauren.
Regarding apparel, the bankrupt Warnaco Group holds the men’s wear Chaps license and several swimwear licenses, which led Polo Ralph Lauren last November to issue a cautious outlook. Chaps by Ralph Lauren is among the key brands it holds, as well as CK Calvin Klein Jeans.
Doug Williams, corporate group president of Polo Ralph Lauren, said even with all the various licensed products, “Ralph’s vision isn’t complete yet, and he sees the company and his view of the future expanding tremendously.” Williams said Lauren has the uncanny ability to know what consumers want and when they want it. “Consumers want taste, and Ralph provides that at all economic levels,” he said. “He also has the ability to communicate an American luxury lifestyle outside the United States.” There’s a certain classicism running throughout all of Lauren’s products, whether it’s apparel, fragrance or home furnishings, said Andrea Robinson, president worldwide of Ralph Lauren Fragrances. “The classicism is based on aspiration, and when I say that, I mean it’s America at its best, the best America has to offer,” Robinson said. “For example, if you take a vision of what a [Ralph Lauren] room looks like, you always want to jump into the bed, because it has a fantastic quilt on it. There’s usually some throwback to [a kind of] heritage, even in the most modern room, there’s a beautiful picture of grandfather and son — that kind of thing. ralphlaurencouponnow.net ralph lauren coupon
“Each [line] is a world that’s full of aspiration,” Robinson continued, “what I call Ralphisms — things that we associate with each of his lifestyles. We feel Ralph owns lifestyle.” Robinson said it’s the attention to detail that really defines a “Ralphism,” and that can be found in everything from the little pink band on the bottle of the women’s Romance fragrance to the quality of the aromatic oils used in the fragrances to the photography in the advertising. Regarding the company’s stable of fragrances, which includes Lauren, Romance, Ralph and Glamourous, launched last September, she said: “Each has its own story to tell. With different people, different clothing and a different feeling. But they all have Ralph’s vision.” Lauren’s ability to craft lifestyle collections based on American ideas of luxury is exemplified by his home collections, which in the past have been created around themes ranging from a Hamptons beach house to a country picnic to a sleek penthouse in the city. Said Robert Burke Jr., vice president and senior fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, who previously headed the fashion office at Ralph Lauren: “His take on everything is really based on everything he wants and what he can’t find. It’s like, `I have this house in Jamaica, and I can’t find anything to furnish it with.’ It happens in a very organic way. In a lot of ways, because of his licensing, Ralph has brought taste to America regardless of income level. He and Martha Stewart are not so dissimilar in the sense of educating people about good taste.” Larson, Kristin