The Ralph Lauren company announced today that Rugby Ralph Lauren would be phased out in the coming year. The move will close a popular online store and 14 brick-and-mortar stores located in cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York.
According to the report, Ralph is killing Rugby in order to focus on more scalable global opportunities and growth for the core Ralph Lauren brand. But it’s hard to understand why they would end such a great brand….
Rugby had some great looks. They combined the sophistication of Ralph Lauren with an offbeat prep school aesthetic. Although Rugby marketed toward younger, college-aged customers, their steady riffing on the Ivy League look produced a few stellar pieces that men of all ages could wear.
They also seemed to have a more keen sense of what young people were into. While the core Ralph Lauren and Polo Ralph Lauren lines could appeal to the more traditional menswear consumer, Rugby attracted the younger guy who wanted to experiment with his look.
Not long ago, Brooks Brothers launched a similar effort with their “Back to Campus” and “Back to Town” collections. So it’s surprising to see Ralph leave this game so soon.
For those of us on the consumer side, it’s still difficult to understand why RL would phase out such a promising young (launched in 2004) clothing line. Rugby had a distinct style that seemed relevant and worth preserving. Once the brand is gone, don’t be surprised if you see some of Rugby’s best ideas recycled in the core Ralph Lauren line.
Heading Photo by Andrew Watson on Flickr