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RL Black Label to merge with Purple Label

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by vida, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. dreamspace

    dreamspace Senior Member

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    The luxury market is aimed at people that can afford it. A vast majority of the people who can afford without thinking twice either don't have time for bespoke, or care about the fit at the obsessive levels we do. They see something nice with a high price tag and nice name to it, good enough. Look at Hollywood...I've never seen so many ill-fitting $5000-6000 suits in one place.

    A couple of months ago I actually got to meet the mythical personal shopper in action, and it was quite fascinating. She came to the shop and asked what they had (quite specific in terms of colors and texture), and walked out with a couple of Brioni suits, a handful of $500 shirts and dozen of $250 ties. Apparently her client had something really important coming up, and the shop would send a tailor to his home for adjustments later that evening.

    So, again, the luxury market is NOT aimed at regulars, and will never be. It's aimed at returning customers with money to spend. This goes from upper middle-class families that buy high $$$ clothes 4 times a year, to the ultra-rich that can burn hundreds of thousands on a single shopping spree.

    Not saying that all luxury customers are like that, and don't care about the price:quality ratio, but a lot of them are like that, and I don't really blame them.
     


  2. othertravel

    othertravel Distinguished Member

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    Is RL Purple Label construction better than Caruso Sartorio Parma?

    That's Caruso's highest line, but was wondering if they do anything special for RL Purple.
     


  3. dreamspace

    dreamspace Senior Member

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    From what I've read, the Factory (Caruso) is put this way: You have different work stations, where the pieces go through, and the specification for that particular item comes up on the screen, with detailed guides and whatnot.

    http://tuttofattoamano.blogspot.no/2012/02/ralph-lauren-purple-label.html

    So, in short, you might find some details on a Sartoria Parma that aren't on a RLPL, and vice versa.
     


  4. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Distinguished Member

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    I'd heard (I believe in one of the SF RL threads) that when PL was made by Caruso it was made in a special section of the factory dedicated to the line. That would suggest that any similarities were coincidental, which makes sense since the RL pieces are not just rebranded Caruso suits; the silhouettes are quite different.
     


  5. othertravel

    othertravel Distinguished Member

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    Well, RL can specify a certain type of silhouette, just like Tom Ford does with the Zegna factory. But I'm wondering if the Caruso Purple label suits have more hand work than Sartorio Parma.

    Keep in mind that Sartorio Parma suits are about 2k at retail, while RLPL is closer to 5K.

    So to be concise: is the extra 3k for an RLPL suit getting you more hand work, or is it just markup to cover marketing, overhead for RL?

    Or to put in another way, do RLPL suits have the same amount of handwork as Brioni, Kiton or Isaia suits?
     


  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    The quality proposition is not very scaleable. That's one of the issues with small manufacturers scaling up to become larger companies. Focusing on the quality proposition is not only difficult to scale, but it attracts a very discriminating, even unreasonably picky, customer. So the overheads will always be high, and the scale of the business, limited. Headaches will also always be high. A lot of small makers stick with it because it's a space that is relatively non-competitive, and it appeals to many male customers. The value proposition, as Walmart and Suitsupply show, at vastly different levels, is highly scalable. Neither purports to make the most awesome products in the world, but both proffer a good deal for what you get.

    In luxury goods, "lifestyle" is scalable, and this is what Ralph Lauren has always been awesome at. Don't sell a product. Sell a lifestyle, and the products around that lifestyle will also sell. You are not going to find Ralph Lauren products that are poorly made (there are exceptions, of course), because the company has notoriously high QA/QC standards. By the same token, beyond the requisite "the finest wools, most exclusive cashmeres, etc..." copy. you are not going to find a lot of Ralph Lauren copy that focuses on the nerdy stuff that we tend to like. Incidentally, Brioni, Kiton, etc... are also lifestyle brands, and rely primarily on liefstyle branding. If you don't believe me, come with me to Pitti next January, and let me show you their booths and talk to their reps. Of course, everyone uses "the best materials and manufacture", but really, the copy about Neapolitan tailoring or Roman tailoring is more about the image that these things convey, rather than minutiae like "how many stitches is in the lapel of this suit."

    Incidentally, both Gucci and Giorgio Armani are brands with very high QA/QC as well, and both are (clearly) lifestyle brands as well.
     


  7. clotheshorse69

    clotheshorse69 Senior Member

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  8. md2010

    md2010 Distinguished Member

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    its just a shame if they discontinue the RLBL Anthony cut. It's so masculine and unique.
     


  9. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Distinguished Member

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    That's a good point about selling a lifestyle. Perhaps BL was a brand intended to attract a younger, but still discriminating, buyer to RL, who would "grow up" and move on to PL. But if that never happened, the logical fix would be to try and bring that buyer into PL earlier, and simply try and move him to higher echelons as he aged. More similar to Brooks Brothers, I'd argue.

    Your mention of QA/QC and Gucci/Armani also brings up another point: having extremely high QA/QC and having an extremely high level of quality aren't necessarily the same. Gucci still glues together much of its leather (which many of us would consider to indicate poor quality), yet it stays glued together (indicating high QC).
     


  10. Dmanf51

    Dmanf51 Active Member

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  11. ijesse

    ijesse Well-Known Member

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    In my experience working at RL, it was both for the label (it was elitist, as it was less common than Zegna and the masses of Polo customers didn't know it existed) - but also, and this is the important point for me, was access to fabrics. There is definitely a large component going to margins.

    RLPL fabrics are far more outrageous than most offered for a long time by competitors and most tailors (today, perhaps not such a big difference). Examples being the PoW checks with pink, orange, purple overchecks; tweeds; houndstooth in a range of linens, silks and wools etc etc. IMO the PL fabrics were always more flamboyant and risky than the conservative offers by competitors. I remember a client purchasing a three piece RLPL suit in 100% silk PoW check with pink overcheck. The fabric was amazing to the touch, and for a busy man such as he was, RLPL was easily accessible and a known quantity. He didn't need to fly to Naples or search out a boutique tailor down an alley in NYC.

    Because of the scale of the RL business they can offer these fabrics at that price as RL may be the only client buying bolts in that style. That said, Tom Ford today is just as, if not more, flamboyant and high quality than RLPL ever was.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015


  12. Dandy Wonka

    Dandy Wonka Senior Member

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    I just got my first RLPL. A blue cashmere jacket. (ijesse, the fabric is amazing - my tailor almost wet himself when he felt it)

    I got it online so I couldn't try it on.

    When I put it on it looked ridiculous in the shoulders. It was like they came to a point at the top - like a triangle.

    It's at my tailor's at the moment getting the shoulders sorted out. Picking it up on Saturday.

    So for the uneducated like me, which is the top of the line RL label?
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2015


  13. BaronFizzwell

    BaronFizzwell Senior Member

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    Quote: I'm guessing that a lot of the Purple Label/Black Label crowd might not care about this, but seriously, what the hell? Did you hear this from a reputable source?

    That aside, this does seem strange, especially since the lines are, as so many have pointed out, aimed at different crowds. Having used Rugby as my entry drug into the other lines, I suited the cut of that line, as if it were made to measure, and once that closed, found my way to RRL (hence my response). The Black Label line did seem to be more "fashionable", if that makes sense, and I wonder if the Purple Label customer is as interested in trends as the Black Label customer would. Apart from their formal shirting that I bought, the look of Black Label has never appealed to me.

    There's something about the Purple Label's eccentricity that appeals to me as well, which makes a merger seem strange. Purple Label seems to be for people who care a bit more about fabric - and eccentricity, or individual identity. Black Label appears to be much more conservative - by that, I don't mean traditional, I mean that it looks like what a "fashion conscious" guy would wear if he had no idea what kind of suit he wanted, but just wanted to blend in with the other guys wearing whatever cut is trendy at the time. Don't get me wrong, Black Label shirts, at least, fit me like they're made to measure, and I'm black such a cut exists from the different lines, but the overall look is just a bit ... blah?

    But no more RRL, I hope that can't be substantiated ... [​IMG]
     


  14. BackInTheJox

    BackInTheJox Distinguished Member

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    I'm certainly hoping the RRL line is preserved . . .
     


  15. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Distinguished Member

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    I think that the BL suits will fit in with the PL just fine, as an extension of that line. I don't find the Anthony, the flagship cut, to be particularly "trendy"; that would be the Austin (soft shoulder, higher buttoning point, half lined), but the Anthony, with its very English style (large, structured shoulder, lower buttoning stance) is anything but "super trendy". You're dead on regarding the sportswear (or that horrible, short-lived Black Label Denim sub-line); that stuff is utter shit for the most part, in terms of both styling and quality. I think the assumption is that the BL tailored clothing customer will be perfectly happy to shop PL instead, the PL customer will simply ignore the lower end offerings and the BL sportswear customer is perhaps not significant enough to justify the line (or can be transitioned to Polo/RLX).
     


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