WOMEN’S SHINES AT LAUREN’S BOSTON UNIT
Byline: Nancy Brumbach
BOSTON — “We haven’t had a strong women’s presence in this market before and that’s what we are excited about,” said Charles Fagan, president of Polo Retail.
Fagan was discussing the new Ralph Lauren store here at 93-95 Newbury Street, just before a benefit there that celebrated the opening and raised funds for Friends and Young Friends of the Public Garden, Boston’s historic park three blocks away.
Though luxury sales have been weak around the country, Lauren’s women’s business at the new store, which opened the day before Thanksgiving, has been strong, according to Fagan. “We’re not frivolous luxury,” he said. “There is an investment quality and longevity in Ralph’s look. The current economic conditions, particularly in retail, aren’t as relevant in terms of our strategy,” which he describes as being centered on the brand’s “quality and timelessness.”
Bestsellers at the store so far include long wool skirts from the holiday Black Watch plaid collection, cashmere cable-knit sweaters in holiday and cruise colors and the equestrian line. Fagan declined to give a sales projection for the store.
With 9,000 square feet, the store is spacious, luxurious and warm. The Ralph Lauren Collection room has a working fireplace, a plasma screen above showing a video of collection presentations, and deep white leather chairs. There is mahogany paneling throughout the store, with lighter tones in the women’s areas on the third floor housing the designer’s top-priced Ralph Lauren and Black Label. There’s also a wide mahogany staircase with Black Watch plaid carpet and deep red walls. Natural light enters into all three floors.
Right off the top of the stairs on three is a room with casual sportswear and weekend apparel in wall cases. Along the wood-paneled hallway are scarves, footwear, leather goods and other accessories. There are also rooms devoted to evening apparel and cruisewear. Men’s is on the first two floors.
The Newbury Street store is in a landmark limestone building that was long vacant and still bears the brass nameplate of furrier Edward F. Kakas and Sons.
“This store shows our best to the customer,” said Fagan. There’s a level of luxury at the Newbury Street store that you won’t find in the Ralph Lauren shops in department stores around the country,” Fagan said. The company also has a Polo Sport store in nearby Copley Square.
If business really takes off, the Newbury Street store could increase its selling space. “There is another floor on this building,” Fagan said. “Depending on the store’s success, we have additional opportunities there.” Those, he added, could involve the addition of such categories as home and children’s wear.