By  on January 31, 2006

NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren is doubling up in New York next week.

For the first time in 30 years, the designer will stage a men's runway presentation, in addition to his women's show, during fashion week. The men's show will be held on Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. at Skylight Studios at 275 Hudson Street, which, in a change from his regular venue, also will be the location of his women's show this year on Feb. 10.

After seeing his men's wear samples for fall, Lauren decided on the spur of the moment on Monday to stage a runway show in New York this season.

"It's the right moment," Lauren said. "The collections really came together in the past month, and when I started looking at our Purple Label and Black Label and Polo, I realized the clothes demanded that they be shown on a runway this season."

Where other houses and designers may struggle to put together a show in a week, the stars seemed to have aligned for Lauren. On Monday, the company was able to secure the slot that had been vacated by Proenza Schouler (which moved to Feb. 9) and also managed to book Skylight Studios as the show location.

Lauren's men's show is expected to feature more than 50 exits, including looks from the Purple Label and the Black Label lines as well as from Polo Ralph Lauren.

Even though Lauren decided at short notice to put on a show, having a designer of his caliber stage a men's wear event in New York could have a significant impact on the men's season here, which is typically scattered throughout the first few days of fashion week. Lauren hasn't had a formal men's runway show in New York in three decades, but started doing shows in Milan for fall 2002. His last show in Milan was for fall 2004.

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is one of the fastest-growing fashion brands in the world. His men's wear is a $4.2 billion business at retail worldwide, accounting for 42 percent of the company's business.

Lauren started his career in men's wear, and the category is a key focus of growth for the company. Black Label was successfully launched last year. The company has been growing the business in freestanding Polo stores, and has recently been contracting some of the men's wear distribution, domestically focusing on upscale specialty and department stores. Bergdorf Goodman, for instance, opened a Ralph Lauren shop-in-shop last year that showcases the designer's world by mixing the various labels he designs. Last week, the company agreed to buy back the men's and women's Polo Jeans license from Jones Apparel Group.

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