Ralph Lauren Is Stepping Down As CEO Of His Polo-Studded Empire

Photo: WWD/REX Shutterstock.
It's the end of an era (but not a total farewell) for Ralph Lauren. The iconic American designer is leaving his post as chief executive officer of his eponymous fashion empire, Ralph Lauren Corporation. Lauren's new role at the company he founded 48 years ago will be chief creative officer and executive chairman. Lauren's successor is a pretty intriguing hire: Stefan Larsson, Old Navy's global president, a.k.a. the guy credited with making the cheapest of Gap Inc.'s brands do exceptionally well these past few years. Prior to his gig at Old Navy, Larsson was head of global sales at H&M. Larsson will begin his new role at Ralph Lauren in November; he'll also have a spot on the company's board. Despite the fact that Lauren is stepping down as CEO, he's staying in the picture for the time being: “When they start designing things I can’t understand, I’ll quit,” Lauren told The New York Times.

Lauren is decamping from the CEO post so the company can "get its financial house in order," according to The Times. (Revenue dropped 5.3% from 2014 to 2015, per the company's most recent quarterly earnings.) Don't call it a fast-tracked route to retirement for Lauren, though: "I love what I’m doing, I love the company… I won’t be coming two days a week," Lauren told WWD. Lauren stood out from his fashion-legend peers for being equally involved in the business and design sides of his empire, as The Times outlines. Earlier this year, one of Lauren's fellow household names on the American style landscape, Donna Karan, stepped down from her own company in June. (Although Karan was chief designer, not CEO, at her namesake label.) With Larsson in charge, will Ralph Lauren's already-extensive cheaper diffusion lines expand further, given Larsson's experience at successful, low-priced retailers?

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