From AA: Ralph Lauren launches "Rugby". RALPH LAUREN has launched a new line, RUGBY, in an attempt to capture a greater piece of the $27.5 billion 18-to-24-year-old apparel market. Dubbing it "the new Polo", Lauren launched the label's first standalone Rugby's store in Boston, Massachusetts (using Boston's college town status) on October 23, 2004 and revealed plans to open approximately 40 stores over the next five years. "[Polo] is stronger than ever," he told Women's Wear Daily. "You do things when you're strong, not when you're weak. Polo is in its prime. Black Label, Collection, Blue Label; I believe all of them are growth areas." The new Ralph Lauren Rugby label will comprise corduroy pants, rugby shirts, crew neck sweaters, tweed jackets, mini-skirts, toggle coats, puffy vests and dresses. It makes Boston the launch pad for Lauren's first brand created exclusively for sale in his own stores, as opposed to offering pieces through department stores or other channels. "This is an opportunity to continue to control our destiny as we have been with our Ralph Lauren Polo stores," said Charles Fagan, executive vice president of global brand development, for Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. "We're already differentiating ourselves pretty significantly in our luxury stores," he added. "The strategy is working there, and we feel it will work for Rugby as well." Fagan said that about three-quarters of the merchandise sold in the 56 Polo Ralph Lauren stores worldwide are not offered anywhere else, but the Newbury Street Rugby store is the company's first that sells only merchandise unavailable elsewhere. Polo Ralph Lauren reported $2.6 billion in sales last year, with $1.2 billion coming from sales at its own stores. Next year, the company plans to offer the Rugby label through its Polo.com website, he said. Fagan would not disclose specific sales goals for Rugby. The company, though, is unequivocal about its plans to use the preppy-chic Rugby to get into the wallets of well-heeled college kids and newly minted young workers, a segment where it admittedly has a gap. To woo college kids, the company will advertise heavily in campus papers. That positions the collection squarely in the faces of one of the most free-spending apparel consumer groups. Shoppers between the ages of 18 and 24 spent $27.5 billion on clothes in the last 12 months, according to research firm NPD Fashionworld, of Port Washington, N.Y. That represents 16.2 percent of total apparel sales over the same period. Young women outspent young men nearly 2-to-1, according to the NPD data. The new Rugby collection is made up of men's and women's clothes, with prices ranging from $78 for cashmere blend cable sweaters or corduroys, to $298 for tweed flannel suit separates. Lauren, a designer notorious in fashion circles for being very involved in all aspects of his company, already has plans for Rugby stores in other cities with large college populations, including Chapel Hill, N.C. and Charlottesville, V.A. Boston was chosen to launch the brand in part because of its large concentration of college students and because Newbury Street fits with the company's strategy of clustering several stores nearby each other in urban shopping districts. There is already a Ralph Lauren store on Newbury Street. Among young Newbury Street shoppers on Monday, the Rugby store got mixed reviews. Most said they liked the clothes, but a few were put off by the prices. Rugby clothes "are not cheap, but are more reasonable," than those found in other Ralph Lauren stores, said Moneka Bahadur, an 18-year-old Boston University student. Added Liz Kauff, another 18-year-old BU student: "The prices are expensive. I can't afford [the clothes], but a lot of kids in the area can," she said. http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/Menswea....ews.htm So, what do you think? Jon.