Blog: Leonie BarrieAmerican Living launch

Leonie Barrie | 22 February 2008

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp’s eagerly awaited American Living brand was unveiled at JCPenney this week. But despite the hype, the jury seems to be out on whether it’s a savvy move on the part of the upscale clothing company, or a mistake that could well do irreparable damage to its high-end image.

The American Living brand marks the first time that Polo Ralph Lauren has created a brand exclusively for a store other than its own. And, perhaps tellingly, the link between the two is nowhere to be seen. The line has been created by Global Brand Concepts, a unit within Polo Ralph Lauren, and is heavily branded with its own American flag and eagle motif.

Roger Farah, president of Polo Ralph Lauren, said the new direction helps “diversify our business by reaching customers and new channels of distribution.”

But is now the right time to launch a higher-ticket item to a mass market audience? JCPenney seems to think so, and analysts expect American Living to be a billion-dollar business in the next few years, accounting for 5% of the department store chain's annual sales.

The new line will also be about 15% more expensive than Penney's current private-label merchandise, but the retailer has already proved it can sell upscale, exclusive labels with designers like Nicole Miller and European cosmetics via the Sephora shops inside its stores.

And indeed, perhaps there’s no better time to come out with exciting new merchandise that at the start of an economic slowdown. Only time will tell.

JCPenney launches Ralph Lauren’s American Living brand


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