Question about ralph lauren lines

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by JFK, Jul 26, 2004.

  1. JFK

    JFK Well-Known Member

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    I've searched the forums and can't find the answer to this question: I'm hoping someone here can outline the "heirarchy" of the different Ralph Lauren lines for me.

    I know Purple Label is the top line, and I believe that Polo is one of the higher lines, but I'm not sure about any of the others (for instance, I've seen "Lauren" and "Chaps" advertised, but wouldn't know what to expect in terms of quality); can anyone here list the different lines and how they stack up in terms of quality?
     


  2. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    Here's my understanding of it:

    Top: Purple Label

    Middle-Top: Polo Ralph Lauren (either blue or black tags), RRL (not sure if they still make this, but I've seen jeans from this line that were originally $150+)

    Middle-Bottom: Lauren (made by Jones New York I believe), Chaps, Polo University (not sure if this is still made)

    Bottom (sportswear/teen wear): Polo Sport, Polo Jeans Co.
     


  3. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    From my understanding, Chaps is lower than Polo Sport...as some Polo Sport items are expensive (relatively). I think Polo Sport was made as a direct "˜sport' variant (read: less expensive) of Polo. Most of the non-dress shoes sold in the RL stores and the RL website are labeled "Polo Sport".

    I would argue that some Polo items (at least price-wise) compete against RLPL items at a direct level. Especially the Italian-made cashmere items, that seem (to me) to be manufactured by the same company that makes the RLPL cashmere items; by cashmere items I stipulate sweaters, cardigans, etc...not sports coats, suits or anything else that is made by St. Andrews (the company RL subcontracts to manufacture their "˜tailored clothing'). Italian-made cashmere sweaters for example, from Polo cost around $500, whilst the exact same sweater (style, color, design, etc...) from RLPL costs around $650.

    Is the RLPL sweater better? If so better how? Is the cashmere better? Stitching? These are questions I ask myself, but as of yet am unable to answer.

    I will say this, though: RLPL (St. Andrews suits) are a leap (huge?) ahead of Polo RL (Corneliani) suits, especially since they are not fused and use extensive handiwork, compared to the fused and partially machine-made Polo suits.

    Jon.
     


  4. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    Polo Sport right now is being phased out, that's why it has been marketed that well and you're seeing less and less pieces.

     Polo university and Chaps are licensed crap. RL recently started buying back all their licenses to improve the overall quality.

    The regular blue label line (main line) is upping it's quality and price bigtime. Anyone notice how most pieces are more expensive this year. Most pieces are now made in Italy rather than 3rd world countries.

    Purple Label is aiming to compete with the best suit manufacturers, such as Brioni, Borrelli, etc...
     


  5. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Yes, but have you noticed that the price of a RL Polo, Polo-shirt (Polo Polo Shirt? Hmm, that would be a good RL brand: Polo-Polo; anyways, back to the post...) went from $52.50 to $65, yet the quality stayed the same?

    I hope that when RL aims RLPL toward something, it is profit, as RLPL has from a financial standpoint been less than viable, costing the company money rather than making it. As a stockholder who likes and purchases RLPL items, I know I rather have them increase their earnings (and stock price) than continue with the RLPL brand.

    If RL has been "˜upgrading' the Polo brand, I have yet to see the quality upgrade, only the monetary cost.

    Jon.
     


  6. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    The purpose of a ultra-high end line such as RLPL is not to create profit. That line has a very slim chance at ever turning a significant profit, let alone enough to effect the stock price.

    The high end lines are used to give the brand prestige and recognition in order to sell the lower end lines. Did you know that Polo makes the majority of it's money from it's outlet stores. Those are the cash cows, not Purple Label. Look at any fashion house and see where the money is coming from, it's the fragrances and licenses.
     


  7. hermes

    hermes Senior member

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    the lauren licence was cancelled with jones new york but there is a current court case over that ...... it was highly profitable and the RL company found a loophole, if i recall correctly, to get it back into its direct control

    they also own club monaco, which is thrown in somewhere in that middle grouping
     


  8. TCN

    TCN Senior member

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    That's what I heard too. Additionally, I guess that Jones went ahead and copied the 2004 Lauren line for its own women's label. [​IMG]
     


  9. bigbadbuff

    bigbadbuff Senior member

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    the regular RL line is decent quality that is getting better- certainly not better to the point of justifying the price increases. RLPL is as others have said all about image. Very, very few luxe lines are profitable
     


  10. JFK

    JFK Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, gents - I'd forgotten about the Polo Sport and Polo Jeans Co. (both of which I've seen in department stores and have not been too impressed). It's good to know where the other lines fit in, as I see them advertised occasionally on websites, where you don't have the advantage of actually being able to look at the details and feel the materials; I appreciate the insights.
     


  11. acole

    acole Senior member

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    Thanks for a very informative thread, guys...I've been trying to get these straight myself.
     


  12. Carlo

    Carlo Senior member

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    Man I enjoy this forum.

    Since I am a nerd and take things apart...

    Purple Label - Top to bottom wonderful. My favorite item? The antelope suede shirts (jackets?) that retail for around $1000... ridiculous price, unbelievable luxury.

    POLO Blue label - for suits and sportcoats. Excellent. Trousers very good. The Blue Label wears very well and is almost always very well made. Frankly I consider this one under-rated if that is possible for RL.

    The "Double RL line" which I have not seen in some years, was wonderful for Trousers. One of my favorites is a pair of solid black trousers with the "Hollywood" waistband. Have had them for years and they still kick butt. The drape and comfort is wonderful.
    ---------
    Everything else
    Crap. I have sold the University club stuff as what it is - the construction is not what those who go through this forum and Andy's would look for although they are frequently nice looking - ie, I'd never buy them at retail but if you get them cheap it's a nice line for the University set (IE, starving and wanting to look nice).

    "Ralph" and "Lauren"? Well the former desribes my reaction to both generally.

    RL makes me laugh though, some of his lawsuits against polo clubs and magazines are comical. He is angry that equestrians dare to use his trademark when smacking plastic balls with wooden mallets. There was a magazine called "POLO" that he managed to shut down since it focused on lifestyle but "Polo: Player's editiition" survived since most of the articles focus on the intricacies of the near-side backshot and the arguments between US/Argentine and English bred Ponies..... Kinda hard to say they are stealing from him.

    At the end of the day i admire Ralph, far moreso if he is serious about taking control of the empire and ensuring that his name does not appear on trash.
     


  13. skotdik

    skotdik New Member

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    Although the lower end RL stuff is crap I just figured I'd pass these links on for those who want the information. The first link is to a website about canadian manufacturers and the labels that they have licenses for. Montreal Collections Peerless Clothing has a license for the following: Chaps by Ralph Lauren, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Perry Ellis America, FUBU, IZOD, Micheal Kors, Stacy Adams, etc. Peerless Clothing
     


  14. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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  15. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    Jon: I don't completely understand your logic; your analysis seems to make several assumptions which may or may not be valid. Just because companies such as Brioni don't sell lesser lines or license their names for perfumes, etc. (although Brioni does have Brioni Sport, and Brioni ties, socks, and shirts, never mind Kiton cologne&#33[​IMG], that does not necessarily mean that the RLPL line is not designed to provide a "halo" effect for the rest of the Lauren brands, or at least the Polo brand. Or, perhaps it is done as an ego trip for Ralph? (See Mercedes-Benz [Maybach] and/or Volkswagon [Phaeton] for examples of other companies that may arguably be introducing higher end products for these reasons.) Unless you are privy to the strategic and financial planning of the company, you will be hard pressed to prove your point (as will I to prove the contrary); moreover, a company's motivation may change over time. Perhaps when RLPL was first developed, the company hoped to generate a profit, but maybe reality/experience has forced them to change their rationale. I for one am skeptical that they generate much profit from the Purple Label line, seeing how little of it they seem to sell, and how much of it seems to be sold at steep discounts at the end of the season. I could be wrong, but I would bet you alot of money that the Purple Label line is considerably less profitable than the regular Polo line (measured by profit as a % of revenues.) Of course, depending on how one decides to handle cost allocations - particularly of advertising dollars and other overhead costs -, one can reach different conclusions about a product line's profitability, even if you have the numbers. Second, revenue and profit are certainly not the same thing. Historically, the company made a lot more profit through the wholesale business than the retail business, though this changed in 2004. If you look at the operating profit of the licensing business, you can see how profitable this can be (and hence why so many companies are so aggressive in licensing their names for perfumes, soaps, etc). The profits in 2004 of the licensing business were close to the combined profits of the retail and wholesale businesses, in spite of the far lower revenues, because the licensing revenues don't really have any product costs associated with them (i.e. gross margins on these revenues are 100%). This again argues for the value to the company of its image, which is affected by the Purple Label line. As for the discussion of the two separate lines of business, retail and wholesale, and how this proves RLPL is oriented along profitabilty lines, this argument makes no sense to me. The company is trying to maximize overall profitability. If it thinks that the RLPL line will improve its image, and thereby drive sales of its other lines in both the retail and wholesale channel, how does that prove the line is operated to be profitable in its own right? Again, I don't know whether the RLPL line is profitable in its own right, nor do I know if it is designed to generate a standalone profit. I just know that there a legitimate reasons why the line could be justified for reasons beyond its own profitability.
     


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