Jerry Salsini

Major: MS Marketing
Graduation: January 2020

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Recently I have watched the critically acclaimed HBO film, Very Ralph, a biographical new documentary directed and produced by award-winning documentarian Susan Lacy. What did I take from Very Ralph? Aside from idolizing a man’s life work, that is the genius of Ralph Lauren and his ability to democratize the worlds most elegant styles of mens (and womens) wear for 50 years. I would say what caused me to be a true admirer of Ralph Lauren, beyond the irrepressible surges of polo nostalgia and memories of polos, would be what came of the films third act. Toward the close of the film, at the point when the Ralph Lauren company becomes public and Ralph steps down as CEO. It is emphasized by one of the interviewees of a founder’s devotion to the brand’s narrative since it’s origins. New York Times Critic and Fashion Director states “His real adherence to these narratives of America that are core to his brand can get a a little stale, particularly at a time when I think a lot of people who have not felt included in a lot of these narratives, are suddenly finding a voice, and demanding that you kind of rewrite how we have thought about all these stories. (soft smile) And, you know this is not a brand that rewrites.” 

What made Ralph Lauren most appealing in his early career was the ability to take elegant fashion from places like London’s Savile Row and make it accessible to the practical wear of the American male persona, later Ralph Lauren romanticizes the Western look, upraising the bravado of the all-Americana with style of leather jackets, cowboy boots to utility shirts, field jackets and flannel shirts. Ralph Lauren made the “everyman” the working rugged American look cool, inspired and relevant. Really part of American tradition, when looking to the founding fathers of this Nation, history shows how the world through-out thought of luminaries like: Adams, Washington, Jefferson as likewise -trailblazers, cool and inspirational. 

“You’re not just buying an article of clothing. You’ve joined a narrative.” Film Maker – Ken Burns.

 In 1986 Ralph Lauren open up his NY location, expanding from Bloomingdales, such vertical base targets were revolutionary in fashion at the time. The Ralph Lauren Men’s store experience a few blocks from Bloomingdales was like a art museum of the very finest in culture and fashion with an element of engagement, Ralph was not concerned with the fashion world’s norms that catered to elitist consumers, but in ways the brand was accessible to everyone. One can ask in a modern voice, how can this Madison avenue location, and Ralph Lauren’s 144 stores, 77 Club Monaco stores and 272 Polo factory stores – garner success in todays world of digital activation. Through Googles ability to monitor such behavior as: purchases, subscriptions and reservations – geolocations and voice activity – behavior in store can dictate behavior post pop-up or brick-and-mortar experience.“According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor Survey, 72 % people would prefer going to a store for purchasing. It is so because it gives them the chance to try on clothes (69 per cent), check fittings (68 percent), see the item in person (64 percent), and feel the fabric (54 percent).” We see this today through todays brands, as when Glossier opened retail locations in Soho, with Emily Wiess being on message when stating “through lighting, we set customers up for optimal selfies. as perhaps many others took notes from the RL brand. Our offline retail is highly experiential”. In many ways Ralph Lauren was as they say – a true OG.

Looking at the authenticity of the Ralph Lauren brand on social, we see a narrative that still resonates and allures followers, representing the American dream and sense of freedom via FB. A spectacular following on Instagram with young fashion influencers and celebrities celebrating the full breath of the Ralph Lauren legacy – fostering a sense of the content strategy archetypes of content as a social media “community” and “window” into the world of Ralph Lauren, as we often see Ralph Lauren’s family as part of the Ralph Lauren image. 

By the end of the documentary, I was inspired and moved by a pioneer of American fashion, design and entrepreneurship  – a rare Steve Jobs like talent of embodying these multiple-traits and an array of success in one lifetime – Ralph Lauren becomes a class a category in itself as today receiving one “ultimate accolade” as a testimony of achievement – described here the New York Times –

“It is perhaps the ultimate accolade – not merely to have your name known, but to have it become an adjective.

Memories feel Proustian, Music sounds Mozartean – and clothing, linens, furniture and even whole rooms can be Very Ralph Lauren.”

Resources:

Why Pop-up Stores Should Be Part Of Every Retailer’s Strategy

Pooja Singh – https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/326138

https://www.facebook.com/RalphLauren/

Google Tracks Your Purchases. Here’s How To See What Gmail Knows

Katie Conner – https://www.cnet.com/how-to/google-tracks-your-purchases-heres-how-to-see-what-gmail-knows/

Building a Content Strategy, Altimeter, a Prophet Compant – April 6,2016 (PDF)

Glossier: Co-Creating a Cult Brand with a Digital Community, Jill Avery, HBS – JUNE 27, 2019 (PDF)

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