Despite having a banner fiscal year, Ralph Lauren has decided to close it’s “collegiate” line, Rugby.
You’re probably unmoved by this and wonder why I, a girl whose style doesn’t tend to lean towards Boston Brahmin, would even note it.
Well, Rugby Ralph Lauren launched here in Boston on Newbury St in 2004 as a tribute to Boston’s famous Ivy-League style. (Sometimes I think people in New York mistake Boston’s college scene for British boarding schools starring jovial trust funders with charming Kennedy accents but I digress.) So forgive me for having a soft spot for the RL offshoot.
I’m not preppy. I’m not even close.
I’ve never even owned one of those Ralph Lauren Polo shirts or cable knit sweaters, which is practically unheard of here in New England. But I like Rugby’s vibe and they are great for certain basics especially when fall rolls around.
So what went wrong?
Now, I’m not a retail business expert but I have a couple of thoughts:
1. I don’t recall much fanfare heralding the launch of Rugby. I remember it just suddenly being on the less impressive end of Newbury St one day near Urban Outfitters, Condom World and the now defunct Jasmine Sola (don’t you miss Jasmine Sola?) and the doomed Virgin Records space. While this block of Newbury has certainly improved with popular brands popping up, it didn’t exactly bode well for Rugby back in 2004.
2. If I didn’t regularly receive occasional press releases and look books as a girl on the fringe of the fashion industry, I probably wouldn’t even know that it existed. I know they’ve done
3. It was absurdly expensive. Those basics I mentioned earlier? Purchased on major sale.
4. Point of view. For one thing, I’m not sure that this boarding school dandy twenty-something actually exists anymore. When the line quickly took off around the world (including a much hyped store in London’s Covent Garden and in Tokyo) it diluted the brand too much and turned it into much more of a “mall” brand similar to some of Ralph’s other lifestyle lines at Macy’s. I’m not hating on those lines at all especially as their prices (usually) reflect that…Rugby’s price point stayed high.
I loved poking around the Rugby store on Newbury St and I’m going to pout when it shutters for good in January.
I wish RL would decide to keep the line and store as a Boston/online exclusive although it would probably do better at a different location.
The good part? Pretty much every fall style is 40% off in store and online now through November 7th.