Rugby is ready for a rollout. The younger-skewed and lower-priced retail division of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. currently operates 10 stores in the U.S., but company executives have major plans for expansion both here and abroad.
The younger-skewed and lower-priced retail division of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. currently operates 10 stores in the U.S., but company executives have major plans for expansion both here and abroad.
"We're looking to push it out aggressively," said Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer, hinting the firm is eyeing Europe and eventually Asia.
Originally aimed at the collegiate market — the first store opened on Boston's Newbury Street in October 2004 — Rugby has broadened its reach during the past three years.
"I think we found that all ages are buying it," said Ralph Lauren.
In a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts, Farah explained: "Rugby is still in the discovery phase in terms of customer profile and demographics, male-female and casual versus dressy. Surprisingly, age has been more elastic than we anticipated. It was interesting to find that [Rugby] appeals to the younger customer and that it reaches higher up [among some older consumers]. It appeals to those older, in their 30s, who are young at heart and contemporary in their thinking."
To wit, the latest Rugby unit opened this month at 2017 Union Street in San Francisco. Other stores are located in New York; Georgetown in Washington; New Canaan and Greenwich, Conn.; Chicago; Palo Alto, Calif.; Seattle, and Dallas.
No other sites have been announced, but the company said the "real estate development team is working to identify the next Rugby store locations."
Existing stores are 60 percent women's wear and 40 percent men's and offer seasonal collections that are grounded by, appropriately enough, rugby shirts, as well as knit polos, oxford shirts, sweaters, denim, chinos, jackets, suits, dresses, outerwear and accessories.
All the merchandise features authentic detailing and is often inspired by vintage designs. The company describes the offerings as "flavored by old-school inspiration, nostalgic athleticism and modern-day eclectic prep."
Among the most popular items, according to Polo, are the rugby shirts, which can be customized with an assortment of patches under the MYOR (Make Your Own Rugby) concept.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"