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PLAY BALL: Ralph Lauren is taking Rugby international…quietly. On Wednesday, the company opened its first Rugby boutique outside the United States: a 4,300-square-foot store in Tokyo that occupies a large corner of the sprawling Ralph Lauren flagship on Omotesando Ave.  The boutique, featuring mosaic floors and wood interiors, attracted a modest line of about 20 or so folks- some decked out in Ralph’s finest- before the doors swung open. 

Ralph Lauren feted the boutique with a party Tuesday night but the home office in New York turned down requests for photo previews and interviews to talk strategy.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Rugby, a lower-priced brand than others in the Ralph Lauren stable, is moving into the Japanese market at a time when consumers are definitely trading down to fast fashion and diffusion collections. Hennes & Mauritz, Forever 21 and Topshop are all busy expanding in the country.

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