The story of Ralph Lauren started in 1967, with the young entrepreneur establishing his own Polo label with a line of up market ties which were an instant success. In contrast to the convention and fashion of narrow ties of that era, Lauren was unafraid to bring to the table new tie styles, with designs that were handmade using decidedly decadent materials. It was not long before his range of ties were a status symbol in the league of fashionable menswear. Ralph Lauren himself states that he believed the tie to be one of the primary ways that a man expresses himself, and that he thought at the time the world of menswear was ready for something fresh, something that did not simply say you worked at a certain level of business, but something that said you were expressive, and had style and taste. His ties mirrored his decision to have his products aimed up market, with the promotional of all the lifestyles that come with the up market, and the 'Polo' name he granted to the line perfectly presented the elegance of the sport and the lifestyle.
These days, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation is a world leader in fashion and design, and marketing and distribution of up market high quality products in four distinct categories: clothing, home, fragrance and accessories. For over three decades, the reputation of the company, and the distinct branding that the company has, have been thoroughly developed over an ever increasing range of products, and an increasing number of markets worldwide. Ralph was a true visionary in realizing the importance of matching design and fashion with lifestyle, and framing his advertising approach with the high class American lifestyle right at the center. His first product line consisted of just 26 boxes of ties, but this year Polo marks its 45th anniversary, with a company worth of billions, and a range of products across menswear, womenswear, childswear, alongside many accessories, home products and fragrances. The media have given lots of attention to Ralph Lauren, and he has been included in Time magazine, been interviewed by Opera Winfrey, won numerous fashion lifetime achievement awards and likewise man of the year awards.
It was not simply Ralph Lauren's fashionable and distinctive approach to his clothing that has made him his billions. He is also a knowledgeable and disciplined businessman. The key business elements of the company include licensing, retail and wholesale. The key strategy is to keep on building and refining the company brand. Success has certainly come so far with the branding effort, since Polo Ralph Lauren is one of the world's leading clothing brands, recognized the world over, and correctly identified with luxury, quality and prestige worldwide. The wholesale element of the business includes the design of the products, the product sourcing, marketing and logistics for the Polo brand.
The company has a very well integrated marketing and advertising strategy, which helps to make Ralph Distinct from so many other brands, and that is to focus on specialty retailing. This begins with product design, and controlling the availability of certain lines of clothing. For example, Polo continues to increase the number of limited edition and exclusive apparel across Ralph Lauren stores. In terms of retail, there are three major groups that handle it; Club Monaco stores, Club Monaco outlets, and the Polo Ralph Lauren stores. These stores provide the full range of high end lifestyle products, that these days appeals to a surprisingly broad audience. The third element is licensing, and this includes the efforts of home and international licensing, which is crucial in helping to develop and diversify Ralph Lauren Polo's product line, expanding the brand, while still remaining profitable.
International licensing partners operate many Polo stores in over 60 countries worldwide. This leads to the next key element of expanding the international presence of the company. This is obviously an important point, as it provides a huge potential market and a wealth of opportunity. Polo Ralph Lauren's approach to separate regions in the world varies, and reflects the climate of business in the region, lifestyle, culture and other important measures. The infrastructure of the company is robust, yet flexible enough to respond quickly to market changes and to capitalize on opportunities throughout the world. The Polo Sport Corporation's strategies are for expansion in Europe, for Polo Ralph Lauren Stores and Media, and Club Monaco. Under the European expansion strategy, Polo's acquisition of its primary licensees in Europe, Poloco, S.A.S, gives the company a huge source of future wealth and growth. Around half of the brands owned by Ralph Lauren are presented in Europe, and the company plans to address this by introducing further brands across stores in France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK, and to increase retail space for these stores. Aside from the selling of products in large department stores and specialty stores across Europe, at the moment the company operates Polo Ralph Lauren shops in Paris and London. Polo Ralph Lauren plans to further its European presence by opening even more stores across the major European cities.
The company has come a very long way since its inception, and if its overarching success is anything to measure, then success will keep on coming for the foreseeable future.