In the wide-ranging and exclusive interview with WWD about the appointment of Patrice Louvet as Ralph Lauren Corp.'s new chief executive officer, founder Ralph Lauren and his incoming ceo talked about a variety of topics beyond Louvet's job. Sitting in the living room of Lauren's home in Bedford, N.Y., the executives touched upon such issues ranging from see-now-buy-now to department stores to Louvet's own fashion tastes.Here, excerpts from their conversation.CHATTING WITH RALPH LAURENOn continuing with See-Now-Buy-Now:It’s working for us, and it’s doing something. I don’t know if it will work forever. The more people that are not in it doesn’t boost the concept. I think it has its good points and its bad points. I always know when I try something out, you try to be a little bit adventurous in creating newness and you have to try some things, and it may not work. You had to try it out, and we had a lot of good success with it. At the same time, maybe it shouldn’t be that way.On retaining focus:You want to take advantage of what you did. I’ve had brands that are part of Ralph Lauren, whether it’s Polo or Purple Label. In the world of Polo, there are beautiful suits and ties and chinos. We build complete concepts that really work: The Polo store, the Polo restaurants, sheets and towels. All these things have to be nurtured. Sometimes when you have too many brands, you start to spread out in too many places. You have to make sure you’re not doing that and are clear in your vision. Who are we and what do we stand for? You have to tighten up. There is the matter of what’s happening in the world. You have to focus more.On pioneering experiential retail:Our company opened the mansion (on East 72nd Street in Manhattan) and had home furnishings, we had room settings, we had children’s, men’s. I saw families go upstairs and shop and that’s an experience. You have a life, you’re living with clothes, living with furniture and creativity in your life. It’s fun to shop. I’m a big believer in product. You have to have the vision of who you are and what you stand for. Then you have to experiment — open a restaurant, open a coffee shop. I did that a long time ago. There’s talk about creativity, direction and leadership. You know, I’ve been there. These last few years have been tougher in the retail business in the large stores, and it’s been that way for everybody.On department stores:I think department store leaders will have to find a way to bring people into the store. Some department stores don’t have a reason for being with outlet stores and discounters. But one thing you have to know, if something is great, if a store or a restaurant is great, they go into it.On brick-and-mortar:I think retail stores are still valuable. I find for our brands, the stores that are more special, the more we stand for something, the better we are. Quality is very, very important. As far as e-commerce, come back and see me in a year and tell me how good it is.On teamwork:I’m a big believer in teams. I love the people I work with. People who started out in their 20s have been with me 25, 30 years and are still young. I like relationships. To run a business and to build a company — it’s not one man who does it. If I didn’t have the people I have in my company, I’d never have gotten anywhere.CHATTING WITH PATRICE LOUVETOn areas of growth at Ralph Lauren:If you look at my profile, one reason I’ve been recruited is my global experience. I have worked in Japan, Europe, the U.S. I’ve run global businesses for many years now. Obviously we need to get the U.S. business back to growth. The European business is showing good signs of growth and there’s more to be done. And there’s the whole Asia space, the whole China space, that I think is relative white space at Ralph Lauren. China is not easy. If you look at what the Ralph Lauren brand stands for, how distinctive it’s positioning is, I think it’s incredibly relevant for the Chinese consumer.On his fashion profile:I’m not really a fashion guy. I really like that space. I had an opportunity during my career in P&G to lead our prestige division twice. It’s about a $3 billion business. I was in charge of beauty licenses for many fashion brands. Gucci — I got a chance to develop their fragrance line, I loved it. I worked with Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, Rochas, Lacoste, a great diversity of brands. I really enjoyed it.On being a Ralph Lauren consumer: I’ve always loved this brand. My interactions with Ralph Lauren go back decades, from the first store I discovered in Place de la Madeleine in Paris. The brand has been a go-to for me for gifting to my two twin brothers. Every Christmas they get a sweater or a shirt. I have a real fondness for it.On his MBA from the University of Illinois:I went to a business school in Paris and was really keen to study in an American university. I fell in love with the U.S. when [we lived here when] I was a kid. I was determined to come back, to spend some time at a U.S. college. My business school had an agreement with the University of Illinois. Originally it was for three months, but I liked it so much I stayed and went on through my master’s.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews