A company spokesman confirmed the Gray recently retired and noted that her position will not be replaced.
Gray, who joined Ralph Lauren in 1997, also became chairwoman of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association in 2011, where she will remain until the board votes on a new chair later this year.
Gray worked with USFIA president Julia Hughes to steer the 200-member association, which includes companies such as J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and Macy’s Inc., through trade policy issues on Capitol Hill.
She was a strong voice for the industry during the negotiating rounds on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and attended some of the rounds, which were held in various cities around the world.
Trade ministers signed the TPP, which includes the U.S., Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Brunei and New Zealand, in in early February. It aims to remove barriers to trade and would encompass 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product if enacted.
The U.S. fashion industry has a big stake in the agreement. The U.S. imports $22 billion in apparel, textiles and footwear from the TPP countries and exports around $14.25 billion. Vietnam is the second-largest apparel supplier to the U.S. after China and a big sourcing hub for companies.
“Maureen participated on behalf of Ralph Lauren in the TPP negotiations within the industry group and along with other industry representatives and was instrumental in sharing insights about the impact of global regulations and restrictions on American brands,” said Hughes. “She had extensive sourcing experience and had also really developed the expertise to handle, not just a U.S., but a global retail platform and maintain the highest levels of compliance.”
“For the past five years Maureen has provided leadership to the organization and to me personally particularly on the re-branding of the organization,” she added. “She was also invaluable to work with on the U.S. Fashion Industry’s board and staff as we expanded our global activities.”
Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance and former deputy assistant secretary for textiles, consumer goods and materials at the Commerce Department, said as the active chair of USFIA and part of the senior leadership team of Ralph Lauren, Gray “brought a lot of industry know-how to the [TPP] negotiations, from understanding supply chains and understanding the incentives to help move or shift supply chains. Her knowledge of Customs enforcement was critical through the negotiations.”
Glas also credited Ralph Lauren for leading the effort to bring back Made in USA.
“They were a large reason the Department of Commerce embarked on identifying the U.S. supply chain,” Glas said. “It’s why we doubled down on the effort to identify U.S. manufacturers of inputs and Ralph Lauren was involved in that.”
Gray had “enormous credibility across the industry,” she said.
“You knew when she spoke she came from a tremendous background of understanding the supply chain, understanding logistics, understanding customs enforcement and what needed to happen in order to ensure a strengthened industry,” Glas added. “She was a really valuable asset not only to the industry at large but to the U.S. government negotiating team and cared so deeply about this industry.”