It ain't Ralph anymore. Ralph Lauren has officially stepped down as CEO of the retail and lifestyle empire that bears his name.
According to The New York Times, Lauren's replacement will be Stefan Larsson, former executive at H&M, and current president of Old Navy. As the Times points out, this major shakeup is an attempt for Ralph Lauren (the company) to consolidate its finances, as the multiple Ralph Lauren-associated brands struggle against a strong dollar, greater luxury-level competition, and a falling share price.
But just because Lauren is stepping down, doesn't mean he's stepping away completely. He's insisted that his new relationship with Larsson will be a "partnership," and that he'll be remaining on the team in the newly established roles of executive chairman and chief creative officer.
While Larsson will step into his new role as CEO starting this November, Lauren insists that he "doesn't feel like he's stepping back now," joking that he'll quit "when they start designing things I can’t understand."
Considering how the designer was able to take his name, and turn it from a NYC-based apparel line into a global lifestyle empire that still affects American culture to this day, this development is monumental.
What does this mean for the brand as a whole? While Lauren is clearly going to remain as a directing creative force behind the brand (at least right now), in layman's terms, he'll be relinquishing most of his control over the "business side" to Larsson.
Stay tuned as this story develops.