Ralph Lauren's Fifth Avenue Polo Store Is Getting The Axe

In an unexpected but only marginally surprising move, Ralph Lauren will be shuttering the splashy Polo flagship store on Fifth Avenue as a cost cutting measure. It turns out that the high profile, loss leader flagship stores we have come to know so well in New York are not the investment in publicity that they once were. WWD is reporting that the store closure along with other measures including a workforce reduction and an updated digital platform will save the company a not insignificant $140 million per year after an initial $370 million cost. 
Opened less than three years ago, the Polo store was meant to be represent a grand relaunch of the Polo brand for Lauren. it was to put the designer's original brand back into the spotlight with the rebranding of his women's "Blue Label" collection to make Polo a masterbrand for men and women along with a newly designed label. Its Fifth Avenue location should have been a tourist magnet, and the attached restaurant became one of the most coveted reservations in town. This is the first indication we have heard that the lavish three-level store has not lived up to expectations, although when it opened we were struck by impression that though the store is very large, it offered little in terms of newness in either environment or product. Lauren still remains content to draw from the same creative wells he has established over his 50 years in business. That leaves us with a whole bunch of reinterpretations of reinterpretations of the same things he has been making for years., which may be the root of his company's current troubles. At any rate, the "way forward" business reorganization plan that the company has been following seems to be the on right track in shedding some of the behind the scenes excesses that has always plagued the organization, but it is somewhat surprising to see it extended in such a high profile way. At least it shows that they are serious about setting the business right.
There is no closing date announced for the store, and the company is not giving up on new retail concepts, and it identified the Ralph's Coffee counter within the Polo store as a future opportunity. We also expect a newer, more modestly sized Polo store to appear somewhere in Manhattan to maintain the label's presence. With all this cost cutting, we immediately thought about the future of the cult-sized RRL label which has gone through several iterations before settling on an antique-inspired menswear theme. The collection is presented with evocative stores in Los Angeles and SoHo, but not a business on the scale that might warrant its continuation at this point under the company's apparent willingness to make hard choices. One has to wonder if the big RRL store on West Broadway, which has also had a series of lives under Lauren, might be headed for yet another transformation into a Polo store?

The store is slated to close on April 15, only a week and a half away, however, the popular Polo Bar restaurant is expected to remain open as far as we can tell.

Flagship Flash: Fifth Avenue's New Polo Flagship Holds Few Surprises


Signs Of Sale Life With Ralph Lauren Home, Want Les Essentials & More

The dead of winter is also the dead of the sample sale season, so think of the next few weeks as a time to rest your wallet and save up for when the schedule starts heating up again later in the springtime. In the meantime, there are a few bright spots happening this week.

The folks at 260SampleSale have been keeping their venues well stocked even during the slow months. A their 260 Fifth Avenue home base, Italian footwear label BRUNO MAGLI will be in residence through Sunday the 19th offering 75% off luxury shoes for Men and Women. Downtown on Greene Street, online multi brand retailer THE LINE will be offering its final clearance goods at 75% off including designers like Manolo Blahnik, Proenza Schouler, Altuzzara and more through Sunday.

Staring today, Wednesday the 15th, the Want Agency  is holding its seasonal clearance sale in SoHo on Wooster Street featuring its core brand, WANT LES ESSENTIELS de la VIE, as well as SWIMS, TOMORROWLAND and MAISON KITSUNÉ.

Finally, the colossal RALPH LAUREN HOME sale starts up on Thursday the 16th at Metropolitan North Pavilion featuring tons and tons of stuff. Look for plenty of the designer's furniture taking up most of the space as well as his top bed and bath and tabletop collections. Home accessories and gifts are also usually featured as well as antiques and select gift items. Past sales have also included decorative items from the Ralph Lauren visual merchandising warehouse as well as bolts of raw decorative fabrics at deep discounts. Serious shoppers should be advised that shipping is available on site by an independent operator not affiliated with either Ralph Lauren or Soiffer Haskin, who is presenting the sale.

Keep an eye on our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for times and locations as well as any late-breaking events. In coming weeks, look for sales from Derek Lam, The Shoe Box and more.


This Weekend Check Out Sales From Morgane Le Fay & Ralph Lauren Home

There's not a whole lot going on Sample Sale-wise these days, but starting tomorrow, there will be two events worth checking out.

Fans of ethereal women's apparel collection MORGANE LE FAY will be lining up at the SoHo boutique tomorrow morning for the seasonal sample sale that runs through next Thursday. Particularly popular among brides and wedding parties, the label is known for its signature mix of romantic and modernist elements, and the line can include everything from hoop skirts to bomber jackets including the looks pictured above. Look for discounts up to 70% off.

One of the most anticipated sales is always the RALPH LAUREN HOME clearance which starts tomorrow. The four-day blowout typically includes all of the designer's home collections from his top label including furniture, lighting, home accessories, bedding, dining collections and more from his top signature label. Part of the appeal comes from the one-of-a-kind antiques and props from Lauren's visual merchandising warehouse which can include all manner of quirky decorative items. As usual, independent shipping services will be available on-site for extra fees, and, as this is an off-site Soiffer-Haskin sale, leave the kids at home.

Thing will pick up a bit more next week with BESPOKEN, BONOBOS and a long awaited DOLCE & GABBANA sale, so keep an eye on our SALE ROLL sidebar for details and late breaking events.


Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Taylor, Vince & More Pack A Busy Week

High season is kicking in again in the sample sale world this week string with RALPH LAUREN's seasonal blowout at Soiffer Haskin which kicked off yesterday and runs through Thursday. This sale focuses on the designer's most luxurious collections, so that's Collection, Purple Label and Black Label with some premium RRL jeans thrown in for good measure. Early reports have the merchandise skewed toward men's with an extra bonus trove of Club Monaco (a Lauren owned brand) shoes available while supplies last.
Today's big event is the line-attracting REBECCA TAYLOR sale at 260 Fifth Avenue running through Saturday which will be the place to be for steep savings on the designer's popular contemporary sportswear. Go early, this one's almost always a crowd pleaser.
Taylor will be competing with TRACY REESE starting tomorrow the 3rd through Friday in the Garment District where the FLOTUS Fave will be offering both her main collection and more gently priced Plenty label.
Look for a mother line on Wednesday when VINCE kicks off its seasonal sale at the Chelsea Market. The sale promises all of the popular brand's product categories for both men and women at deep savings. Expect crowds to rival the same space's most popular events. Go early.
Thursday the 4th brings popular jewelry brand DANNIJO's sale in the Meatpacking District. This one promises 80% off classic pieces as well as one-of-a-kind samples, but it runs for one day only, so plan accordingly.

There's more from FRENCH CONNECTIONFLEUR DU MAINATORIAMANDA UPRICHARDBARBARA BUI and others making it a particularly busy week for every sample sale venue. Keep an eye on out SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details, hours, locations and the inevitable late-breaking sales.
Next week, it's a contemporary cavalcade with SHOSHANNA, TOCCA, ALICE + OLIVIA & more.


Look For Ralph Lauren's
Big Home Sale This Weekend +
Catherine Malandrino & Gemma Kahng

The Sample Sale Circuit is on a slow burn, but as always, there are a few things of note worth putting on your calendar starting with the RALPH LAUREN HOME Sale (above) which runs from Friday through Monday at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. It's always a vast mixed bag ranging from furniture to tableware, linens carpets, pillows and even various antiques and store props. Note that there will be shipping services available on the premises for large pieces, but costs are to be covered by the customer, so you may want to bring your own U-Haul.

That's the big event, but shoppers looking for a fashion fix will want to check out CATHERINE MALANDRINO's Archive Sale running through Sunday at 260 Fifth Avenue. While Malandrino is one of those designers who seems to pop up fairly often on the sale circuit, this one is promises an abundance of special one-of-a-kind pieces from the designer's vault, and a 6-day run at a sizable venue means that, at the very least, there is going to be a lot of stuff.

Shoppers out for something more exclusive should trek to independent designer GEMMA KAHNG's showroom for an only-once-every-so-often sample sale this Thursday and Friday. Kahng promises 75% off her collection with prices starting at $100.

Finally, shoe ladies should be looking forward to British shoe brand MIISTA's (below) first New York sample sale. They have chosen a spot on the Lower East Side on Allen Street and will be there from Friday through Sunday with bold footwear from last Fall and previous seasons looking to build a new customer base in the U.S.

As always, keep an eye on our SALE ROLL at left for details and late breaking events.


The Big Guns Come Out With
Alexander Wang, Tory Burch
& Ralph Lauren

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We are right at a pre-Holiday peak of Sample Sale activity, and this week brings one of the biggest of the season. Nor'easter or no, today should find a  long line of eager shoppers waiting outside 151 Wooster Street for the ALEXANDER WANG Sale. Yesterday's VIP/Press preview was considerably calmer than the sale will probably be today when it opens to the public at 9 AM, but the same mindset applied: focused determination and a steely stay-out-of-my-way attitude. Some shoppers had a clear idea of what they wanted and got in and out quickly, while others took the opportunity to browse and rummage for the surprise find since the prices at the sale seemed actually lower than those of Wang's recent H&M collaboration that created such frenzy. Like most sales at 260SampleSale's SoHo location, the smaller front section was dedicated to both men's labels. Since they are still relatively small businesses for the designer, selections were limited, but there were some great outerwear pieces that will probably go fast by the end of today, a few select leather styles and bins of T by Wang T-shirts that appeared to have replenishments waiting  underneath. A bit further back, the rest of the space was devoted to women with racks and racks of mostly black, white and gray sportswear and separates. The back wall was mostly reserved for an abundance of shoe styles for men and women ($150 per pair) and the opposite corner was devoted to a small handbag and accessory section. This was at once the most frenzied  section, and the most controlled with sales staff holding whatever bags customers chose until they are ready to check out, so there is no hoarding of multiple items and dragging them around the sale. Have a look at some glimpses of the sale as well as most of the price lists in the gallery above. There's plenty more this week if Wang's urbane street style isn't quite your cup of tea:

On an entirely different stylistic note, TORY BURCH's big seasonal sale set to start today actually soft-opened yesterday at Clothingline, so those looking for something a little more genteel will have their own big shopping bonanza through Saturday.

For something a bit flashier, ALICE and OLIVIA will be filling up 260 Fifth Avenue today through Sunday with plenty of bold sportswear, dresses, shoes and accessories. Expect more lines here as the label has been speedily gaining traction at retail over the past few seasons.

It's not all about ladies this week. ISAIA will be clearing out samples and overstock of luxurious handmade Italian tailored clothing at 225 Fifth Avenue through Friday. Yesterday's preview turned out ot be something of a soft opening as the small space was swarmed with spiffily dressed gentlemen with sartoria on their minds selecting among racks of tasty suits and sportcoats. The elegant Neapolitan label is sharing the space with its younger sibling EIDOS and for those in need of something luxurious but a bit boring, there were a few basic suits from Daniel Cremieux's deluxe line. As with most labels like Isaia, even deeply discounted prices still routinely run over $1000 for suits and sportcoats, so expect to invest some funds. See a few views of the sale below.

Looking for something offbeat? If you have a hankering for gadgets and are willing to venture into the immense Starrett-Lehigh Building on 11th Avenue, then you have probably been secretly waiting for the OXO sample sale which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday. Find tables full of the handy household brand's cleaning, kitchen and other miscellaneous items. Prices start at only a few bucks, and the assortments include regular stock as well as samples and prototype items. Bring your own bag.

Also also starting on Wednesday the 10th, Cashmere specialists AMICALE will be opening its midtown showroom full of scarves, gloves and knitwear for three days just in time to start checking off your Holiday gift list.

For the Vintage-minded, one of the city's most esteemed thrift stores, The Society Boutique is Teaming up with the Fashion Institute of Technology for SEASON'S GREET-INKS, a four-day pop-up created and merchandised by students in FIT's Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program from some of the Upper East Side's finest pre-owned designer clothing and accessories. All proceeds benefit The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Finally, just as Wang's blockbuster sale is shutting down, RALPH LAUREN will take over Soiffer Haskin's 33rd Street facility through Monday with his luxury Collection, Purple Label and Black Label lines for men and women including Clothing, Shoes and Accessories. It's a must for Lauren fans many of whom will be getting up early to stand in line one 

And, of course that's not all. The city is awash in sample sales including hats from EUGENIA KIM, jewelry from JOHN HARDY, NOIR, TULESTE and GERARD YOSCA, updated men's heritage clothing from HASPEL, innerwear and lingerie from HANRO, ZINKE, SAMANTHA CHANG and EBERJEY and more other sales than we can even begin to include in a single post. See our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details and keep checking back for late-breaking sale information. 

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Fifth Avenue Liquid Lunch Edition

09ZCRIT2-articleLargeBack from the business of covering the Spring 2015 runway season, Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs takes in Ralph Lauren's new Polo flagship on Fifth Avenue in this week's Thursday Styles. Specifically, our shopper focuses on the women's floors where the sort-of-brand-new Polo for Women collection is making its debut. for this assignment, she takes on the mantle of the late Elaine Stritch, singing her bitter signature anthem "The Ladies Who Lunch". Perhaps she is suffering from runway overload after a month of fashion shows, but she has brought a gimlet eye to Lauren's latest retail extravaganza.
And we thought we were the only one who could find the cracks in that designer's billion-dollar veneer.
The digs come subtly, noting how Lauren has deftly managed to eclipse not one but two actual costume designers for films he has contributed designs for (Ruth Morley for "Annie Hall" and Theoni V. Aldredge for the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby"). Backhanded attention is also given to the stagy enthusiasm of the store's staff and their transparent methods of engaging customers,

“I love your cardigan — it’s so cute,” one piped up as I browsed through another room, containing echt-Lauren items like distressed denim shirts at $165 each, vintage Navajo jewelry in a glass case and down jackets in navy. “It comes in other colors,” she said.


“I love your necklace,” said another salesclerk and, regarding a dark gray poncho, “We have that in other colors.”

In the end, she is suitably impressed with the undertaking, but not exceedingly enchanted. "Ralph Lauren built his business on an ideal of the American upper class captured in an eternal golden afternoon of leisure pursuits; this is his moment of reckoning with the Rich Kids of Instagram." Of course, those kids have already absorbed twice as many images as their parents.  Our shopper doesn't see anything new here either, but she recognizes the target customers' love for remixes and reboots.

Critical Shopper: At Polo Ralph Lauren, Riches for a New Generation By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Polo Ralph Lauren 711 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, Midtown
Flagship Flash: Fifth Avenue's New Polo Flagship Holds Few Surprises



Fifth Avenue's New Polo Flagship
Holds Few Surprises

It's rare that a major new store appears exactly as one would have predicted it, but that is the case with Ralph Lauren's Polo Store that opened last week on Fifth Avenue. This is neither a criticism nor a compliment. It just is the way things are in Lauren's world. Even though this is a brand new store concept for the designer, it feels like we have seen it before.
As America's most successful fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, curiously, is the one who is least held to the often crippling requirement demanded of practically every other one of his colleagues in the world: newness. In fact, his customers seem to crave the familiar from him. They like buying more of what he has shown rhem before, at all price points, and the Polo store delivers it to them in abundance. There are new touches here and there, but by and large it is a total immersion experience into the fashion equivalent of comfort food. It is a giant grilled cheese sandwich of a flagship.

New Yorkers are familiar with the designer's boilerplate store design tropes from the proliferation of his boutiques around the city, even as they have switched locations and product lines over the years. Then there are the immense Polo departments inside Bloomingdale's and Macy's and a smaller one in Saks. He is the Starbucks of designers in the city, inescapable in the sense that you are never to far away from some product of his even if it's just a sneaker or a bottle of perfume. So, there was no clamoring for a three level showcase of the Polo label, but then, this is Fifth Avenue, and this store is a brand palace for tourists. While most designers might struggle to fill so much space with their entire output of product lines, Lauren can easily make use of the space with but one of his labels, which is something of a feat by anyone's standards.

Of course, we enter through the mothership by way of an impressive vestibule. The main floor is dedicated to the 47-year old men's line. Even if it has been decades since the Polo label was Lauren's most exclusive, it is still his first, and the one he built his empire on. It remains a cash cow and here is where you will find the khaki pants, the cabled cashmere crewneck sweaters in a rainbow of colors, the cargo pants, the button down shirts and the knit polo shirts with the little insignias. We could spend the entire post listing the items found here, but you could probably list them yourself without even visiting the store, and it doesn't even present the label's entire offerings. While there are a few sportcoats and blazers among the merchandise mix, and a few wall hooks festooned with neckties, the tailored component is conspicuously missing here. Anyone looking for a Polo suit will have to head to Lauren's original Madison Avenue mansion. Yesterday afternoon, it was sportswear that was being snapped up by eager shoppers. We all know that Lauren's company is paying a fortune in rent to be on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, but these boring basics will easily cover the expense, and there are countless hyper-styled employees to make sure that each shirt is precisely folded and stacked. The decor is exactly what one expects from any Polo selling environment: rich faux-vintage wood paneling and shelves interspersed with whitewashed sections of the same punctuated with antique props, the odd $20,000 custom bicycle (available by special order), and mannequins rigged with artfully disheveled merchandise styled with enough layers to keep an arctic explorer toasty.

Polo5thAveElevatorTo find anything that feels new at all, you have to walk to the center of the store and use the glass elevator (at right), a unique touch, to venture upstairs to the two floors dedicated to Lauren's new Polo for Women collection.
Well, it's sort of new.
In reality, Polo for Women is just the decade or so old Ralph Lauren Blue Label collection which was created to be a women's counterpart to the men's Polo label. Rebranding it makes one wonder why they didn't just call it Polo in the first place, since it never gained much traction outside of Lauren's own stores, but now, reworked, and merchandised so close to the O.G. men's line, it suddenly makes some sense, and it has been given plenty of space to make its case. The new label gets a lighter, more loftlike environment with white painted brick walls and a bit less of the signature vintage clutter. There are the women's iterations of all the aforementioned men's basics in some sections. In others, shoppers will find other versions of familiar looks from runway shows past, other previous collections, and even some styles that seem repurposed from the racks of the designer's defunct Rugby chain, all sourced and produced to fall within the correct price range. In fact, the new store could go a long way toward finally positioning one of Lauren's labels in the women's contemporary category, one of the few that has consistently resisted his offerings. There is also, on the second floor, a book section featuring the designer's own tomes, several harder-to-find publications from preferred Polo photographer Bruce Weber, and other fashion related volumes. It's a concept relatively new to Lauren's stores, but not one that others haven't been offering for quite some time (cough-Paul Smith-cough). There is also the designer's much talked about coffee bar, featuring Ralph's own custom blends. As The Shophound is not much of a coffee drinker, we are not sure exactly how one distills the flavor of a polo shirt in a cup of espresso, but we are sure they found a way.

In the end, Polo Fifth Avenue is a celebration of the familiar, and the tourists will eat it up. In that sense, the store is basically review-proof, like another Fast & Furious movie. The most noticeable change is that this season, lauren has decided to re-design the actual label sewn into Polo products. Gone is the familiar blue and white "Polo by Ralph Lauren" heritage logo that has remained constant since the designer's fist necktie. In its place is a less distinctive gold-on-blue tag in a font that corresponds with the designers advertising and other media, but looks a little bit banal. For the folks at Ralph Lauren, it must represent some kind of new beginning launched with this lavish showplace, but to The Shophound it only makes us think back to when that old label was something prestigious, exclusive and coveted. It's a long way from Fifth Avenue brand palaces.

Polo Ralph Lauren 711 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, Midtown.


A Random Mix Of Sales Starring Ralph Lauren Collection + Joie, Equipment, Kiki de Montparnasse & Mara Hoffman

This week's sale schedule is front loaded, with RALPH LAUREN COLLECTION and ERNEST ALEXANDER already under way. Ralph is clearly the week's main attraction running through Thursday the 7th at Soiffer Haskin in Midtown. markdowns are up to 70% off, but discounts on individual categories will vary. This sale, as in seasons past, features the designer's highest level brands for men and women including Black and Purple, so prices are still high even at a discount, though some further reductions can be expected in the final days. See below for some more of the week's highlights:

A trio of popular contemporary labels, JOIE, EQUIPMENT and CURRENT/ELLIOTT hits 260 Fifth Avenue today the 3rd and will take up residence through Saturday. Offering sportswear and denim, it promises to be a reliable resource for sprucing up the summer wardrobe.

Is it hard to think about cashmere sweaters just as the weather has finally warmed up? Maybe, but AUTUMN CASHMERE, also starting today, can be relied upon to make it all more appealing. Look for Men's, Women's and children's items as well as samples from the latest collections.

Wednesday the 4th brings racy luxury with up to 80% off at KIKI de MONTPARNASSE. The upscale erotica brand is known for its opulent take on items we can't really describe in detail here on our genteel blog, but they are promising "one-of-a-kind" items, which really could mean anything.

Also on Wednesday, restock your supply of glassware and other tableware at REIDEL's sale at Chelsea Market through the weekend. Everybody should have at least a few good wine glasses, and this would be the place to pick up a set.

And lastly, it's not technically a sample sale, but DOVER STREET MARKET is holding its first clearance sale since it opened last winter. Markdowns of 30% to 40% off most of the store's collections are promised. Expect some crowds down in Kips Bay starting on Wednesday at 11 AM.

Be sure to check the SALE ROLL at left for details and the inevitable last-minute, late breaking sales.
Next week, save up for more bedroom shopping from LA PERLA and second rounds from SFERRA (this time in a new venue) and Onward Kashiyama's ICB and J.PRESS YORK STREET. Also, look for ALICE + OLIVIA, SHOSHANNA, NANETTE LEPORE and TORY BURCH.


Ralph Lauren To Launch
Polo For Women This Fall
At The New Fifth Avenue Flagship

RalphLaurenFifthAs has been widely rumored, Ralph Lauren is finally expanding his original Polo label to include women's apparel this Fall when his flagship Polo Store concept opens on Fifth Avenue. While has has offered a "Blue Label" collection for women for several years as a women's counterpart to his most broadly distributed premium men's brand, it never made a major impact at retail outside of the designer's own stores. Polo-womens04RodinBanica
The new line will replace Blue Label, and has been tweaked to be merchandised side by side with its older brother collection. “I felt like it was time that I should explode this,” Lauren tells WWD. “I thought, ‘What am I not doing? How am I going to make this company stronger? How will I define these brands?’ It’s not about what’s expensive. The same girl that wears this will also buy Black Label and Collection. We’re giving her a diverse mood that she hasn’t seen.” Though Polo was the original label Lauren began his business with in 1967, when he introduced women's wear during the 1970s it was under the "Ralph Lauren" brand. He has never included women's products under the Polo label, Polo-womens01-RodinBanicawhich served as his top men's brand until the late 1990s when the Purple Label collection was created to serve a high-end men's luxury market which which became disenchanted with the increasingly broad distribution of Polo.

Polo for Women is being introduced at his Fall 2014 Collection runway show this morning, and it will debut at retail when the new Polo Store opens at 711 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street. The collection's prices will mirror the men's counterpart starting at $89 for a knit top and topping out at $998 for leather leggings. The 35,000 square foot Polo Store flagship will precede many slated for the U.S. and will be the first in New York to offer a restaurant. A major rollout of the concept is planned for here and around the word including confirmed locations in Hong Kong and London and more likely to come soon.

Ralph Lauren Unveils Polo for Women (WWD)
Flagship Update: Ralph Lauren Devoting Fifth Avenue Store To Polo Label + A Restaurant