NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren is planning to give Manhattan another big design statement next year.
This story first appeared in the March 17, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Lauren will open a second flagship here at 888 Madison Avenue, on the corner of 72nd Street and across the street from his store at the iconic Rhinelander mansion. The new 27,500-square-foot store will house Lauren’s world of women’s and women’s accessories, as well as his home collections.
The store will take over the space once dedicated to Polo Sport, which in recent years has become a Ralph Lauren lifestyle boutique. When the new store opens in fall 2009, the Rhinelander mansion will focus exclusively on the designer’s men’s collections.
Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. will completely gut and rebuild the current space, replacing the two-story structure with a four-story building. Polo is also taking over an adjacent town house at 22 East 72nd Street, which will be incorporated into the selling space.
The new flagship will take inspiration from the Rhinelander mansion, as well as The Duke and Frick Mansions, and will sit comfortably among the neighboring Beaux Arts town houses on East 72nd Street, with features such as a limestone-clad facade.
Charles Fagan, executive vice president of global retail brand development, explained the move is a natural evolution in tandem with the overall growth of Polo Ralph Lauren.
“When it opened, the mansion reflected the world of Ralph Lauren at that time, the size of the lines, the labels that existed at that period, and it reflected the range and the scale of the company in 1986,” Fagan said. “Polo Sport, which opened in 1993, grew out of the need for more space, and out of Ralph’s desire to showcase his continuing innovation [around sport] and the range of the brand.”
The store was renamed Ralph Lauren in when the Polo Sport label was discontinued and its sensibility moved to such lines as RLX, Polo Golf and the Blue Label lines for men’s and women’s. Since then, that store has been maintained as “an active, urbane, chic, sexy weekend store,” said Fagan, offering a mix of merchandise from RLX, Blue Label and men’s and women’s Collection.
“The mansion today represents our growing tailored and made-to-measure businesses for men, and our accessory and Collection business for women, and a home department that has been too small for years,” Fagan said.
Polo plans to relocate the merchandise from 888 Madison Avenue to a temporary location at 1055 Madison Avenue at 80th Street. The temporary unit will open when the 888 Madison Avenue store closes on March 28. Its offerings will eventually be incorporated into the men’s and women’s flagships.
In New York, Lauren also has a store on West Broadway in SoHo, one store on Prince Street in NoLIta, and three on Bleecker Street in the West Village. According to Fagan, the success of the runway collection, coupled with the launch of the Ricky bag two years ago, which brought much attention to the accessories category, as well as flagships in Tokyo and Moscow have highlighted “our confidence and potential of the luxury business, and particularly women’s and women’s accessories,” Fagan said.
Company executives are still working out details of the layout of the new store.
“The building is coming down and an entire new four- floor building is being built,” Fagan said, adding the facade of the adjacent town house on East 72nd Street will be retained and its floor plates leveled with those of the new building.
“It will reflect the level of glamour and luxury that you see on the runway and see in the accessories,” Fagan said of the new store. “It will be a physical manifestation of that presence.”