’80s Fashion Icon Ralph Lauren Tearing At Seams?

Staying relevant and up-to-speed on what’s going on in any industry can prove to be a difficult feat. No other place is this more true than in the fashion industry.

In a move sure to upset the delicate balance of order, Ralph Lauren has just announced the firing of its CEO, Stefan Larsson, due to creative differences. Upon hearing the news of the departure this week, some are questioning if the five-decade-old fashion empire is starting to wear a little thin at the seams.

Those questions are valid concerns as this CEO was brought in for the sole purpose of keeping up with the fast-fashion trend and helping elevate the brand back to its ’80s icon status. Some view the founder’s unwillingness to let go of the reins, as Ralph Lauren handed the role of CEO over in 2015, as a negative sign for not allowing the brand to truly grow.

Bloomberg quotes Instinet LLC analyst, Simeon Siegel, who said, “A successful founder and CEO is likely going to have a very strong view that doesn’t always accept change. There’s dual conflict going on where investors wonder how a qualified person is going to be willing to be able to walk into the company, believing you’re going to have a long enough leash to do what they believe needs to get done.”

With several senior Ralph Lauren executives leaving the company due to the founder and now acting CEO’s protective nature regarding the direction, the brand evolution is now being halted.

What’s happened with the Ralph Lauren brand isn’t the first time a founder has held the reins too close to the vest, and it likely won’t be the last. This is a lesson to all founders looking to have a successful company. If the goal is to continue an upward trajectory, it’s necessary to go outside of the company bubble and really listen to what’s happening at the core end-user level. Otherwise, there will be a high probability of failure.


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