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With the  opening of the first Polo flagship on Fifth Avenue fast approaching, Ralph Lauren is moving closer to letting each of his brands stand on their own.

In February, the company said it would start to layer in Polo stores as it expanded its Ralph Lauren luxury stores. In addition to the New York City store, a combined men’s and women’s flagship at Lee Gardens, an exclusive luxury shopping mall in Hong Kong, is slated to open in October and will offer a separate Purple Label assortment. There are no plans at this time to open freestanding Purple Label units.

“We’re in the midst of defining and separating stores,” Lauren said, adding: “It’s all in the vision.” Overall, the company has 436 directly operated stores.

In a presentation of his spring collection at his Madison Avenue offices here Tuesday, Lauren opened with a “very big, strong statement” of Purple Label, which he called the “glamour in the world of Ralph Lauren.

“This is now a big luxury brand that is growing and moving and we’re seeing sales build,” he added.

Anchored by luxury tailored clothing with a slim, modern silhouette, the label is targeted to a “very sophisticated guy with a point of view who wants chic suits and sportswear,” he said. Double- and single-breasted models were offered and Lauren said he believes men are ready for double-breasteds again. “I wear them all the time because no one else does,” he said with a laugh. “But there are also a lot of young ceo’s who want fashion and specialness, and this gives a sense of power and looks elegant.”

In addition to the requisite black, the mix included plaids, pinstripes and solid charcoal-gray suits, many of which were accented with high-collar shirts with contrasting white collars. “This is a man’s wardrobe,” he said. “The gray look is simple, beautiful and easy to wear. And it’s stimulating the clothing business.”

Lauren also showed different hues of blue, ranging from traditional navy to cobalt. “This is wearable,” he said. “And it’s clothing with a hint of international flavor for the young guy who loves fashion.” Coordinating neckwear was available in subtle prints and patterns that “woke up the look.”

A capsule within the collection was titled Black Safari and included floral or leopard print pants, cotton sweaters, unconstructed cotton blazers, crocodile leather jackets and other luxury sportswear pieces. “The look is very chic and timeless,” he said. The color palette centered around chocolate brown and tans but also included stark whites and blacks.

Although Lauren doesn’t expect to sell a lot of pure white suits in the U.S. market, he said that as an international brand, this could play in “China, Hong Kong, Brazil and South America. We’re offering them things they haven’t seen,” he said. “People don’t tell you what they want, they have to be shown.”


Photos: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

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