Kevin Carrigan has landed at Ralph Lauren, joining the company as senior vice president, creative director, women’s Lauren and Chaps brands, effective today. He will lead the design teams and oversee licensing for Lauren and Chaps, two of the company’s most widely distributed brands.
Carrigan comes to Ralph Lauren with nearly 20 years of experience designing the big revenue-generating collections of a major designer brand. In August, he resigned from his post as global creative director of Calvin Klein Inc. after 18 years with the company. He was responsible for CK Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein White Label, which represents the lion’s share of Klein’s apparel business. Carrigan’s resignation came two days after Raf Simons was appointed chief creative officer of Calvin Klein Inc.
This is a big move for Ralph Lauren. Lauren has always been the only outward-facing designer at his company. At Calvin Klein, Carrigan was one of five creative directors, and a highly visible one in the industry. He staged elaborate seasonal presentations for the labels that fell under his purview, with the creative direction defined by a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek raciness. What turned out to be his final presentation for Klein in April 2016 was set up as the fictional Calvin Klein Hotel, populated with jailbait models lounging in come-hither poses in their underwear. There were plenty of fully clothed guys and girls, too, but the male models standing around in their Calvin Klein briefs were always a sight to behold — and Instagram. The successful #MyCalvins ad campaign that launched in 2014, and has featured steamy undies shots of celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Kendrick Lamar, was designed for Carrigan’s collections.
The sexy image Carrigan honed at Calvin Klein is essentially the polar opposite of Lauren and Chaps, which are anchored in squeaky clean, casual American classics. They’re department-store brands, with Chaps sold at Kohl’s, Belk, Bon-Ton, Stage Stores and Hudson’s Bay stores. Some of Lauren’s biggest retailers include Macy’s, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor and Dillard’s. Evolving the women’s product was a key tenet of the Way Forward restructuring plan laid out by Lauren and the company’s president and chief executive officer Stefan Larsson last year to assure investors that they were actively working to offset lagging growth and overdistribution. Throughout 2016, Ralph Lauren Corp. imposed job cuts, reducing headcount by 5 percent, folded Denim & Supply into Polo and implemented senior management changes. To that end, in September Valérie Hermann’s role was expanded to president, global brands, making her responsible for all global brand development, overseeing Ralph Lauren, Polo Ralph Lauren, Lauren, Chaps and Home. Carrigan will report to her.
“Kevin is a proven leader with significant brand experience,” said Hermann. “Consistent with the Way Forward Plan, he will be focused on evolving the Lauren brand in a way that stays true to our unique brand DNA and makes it even more desirable for today’s evolving consumer.”