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Ralph Lauren Steps down as CEO

Whether you wear Ralph Lauren suits, Polo Sport shirts, or don your bedroom in Ralph Lauren home, you have a love for the brand that has become a staple in American luxury.Yesterday, the man behind the brand announced that he would be leaving his role as CEO of the company effective this November. The brand, which was started in 1967 with a line of neckties, has transformed over the last forty-eight years into a global staple of American style.

Who will take over the role as CEO? As reported yesterday by CNN, the former H&M executive and president of Old Navy, Stefan Larsson, will become the new CEO of Ralph Lauren this fall (CNN).

Stefan is known for his growth of both H&M brand, and Old Navy, the steady climb in numbers may be the reason Mr. Lauren trusts his empire in Larsson’s hands.

While at the head of H&M, Larsson turned built the brand up from having only 3 billion in revenue, to 17 billion. The Ralph Lauren brand has suffered in the past few years, recording a 5.3% loss from June of 2014 to June of 2015 (CNN).

That being said, Ralph Lauren has pride in being one of the founding luxury brands that put American fashion on the map, legitimizing it among the elite brands of the European fashion world. Larsson has made his namesake with mass retail, which is a very different market.

In an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Laruen said he was skeptical at first after colleagues suggested Mr. Larsson, and he learned of Mr. Larsson’s former employers stating:

“So I said, ‘Where’s he from?’ And, they told me: ‘Old Navy and H&M.’ I said: ‘Why would I be looking for that? We’re building a great luxury company (NY Times).’ “

Even Larsson was skeptical in the same interview he stated:

“I was hesitating. Why was he interested in speaking with me?” Mr. Larsson said (NY Times).

In the end, Mr. Larsson and Mr. Lauren came to like one another. Mr. Lauren stated:

“I interviewed lots of people who were in luxury. But Stefan has a great quality that made me say: ‘You can be my new C.E.O.,’ ” he said. ” He’s unique as a man, a man who’s capable of building businesses and growing companies, but at the same time he’s sensitive to people’s feelings” (NY Times).

Even though Mr. Lauren will no longer be the CEO, he will still be the Chief Creative Officer; his designs are after all what made the company what it is today. This may be the end of his days at the helm of the ship, but Mr. Lauren still has work to do.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Larsson and Mr. Lauren work together to build upon the empire that Ralph Lauren started.

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