Ralph Lauren Closing Fifth Avenue Polo Store

Comment-leaver “Chewco” spotted the news today that Ralph Lauren is closing the Fifth Avenue Polo store here in New York. While it was never anywhere close to the majestic Rhinelander Mansion uptown (it wasn’t trying to be), it was a nice place to stop by (my church is across the street). I got to know several staff members who were nice as can be.

WWD reports:

Ralph Lauren will also move its current digital operation to a less expensive and more flexible digital platform.

The company said it expects these moves to be wrapped up by the end of March 2018 and to result in annual cost savings of about $140 million. However, the restructuring moves will cost the company about $370 million initially.

Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren will continue to “explore new retail concepts, including Ralph’s Coffee, and develop new store formats that connect the brand to loyal and new customers,” the company said.

“These are important actions we are taking to continue our evolution and deliver on the Way Forward commitments we made in June,” said Jane Nielsen, chief financial officer. “We are looking carefully at the way consumers are shopping online and believe that shifting to the [new digital] platform will allow us to create a best-in-class solution more efficiently in all of our markets around the world.”

Unless my editor just got the axe, I’ve got an assignment for the online magazine due in a couple weeks. — CC

70 Comments on "Ralph Lauren Closing Fifth Avenue Polo Store"

  1. I wonder what this will mean for The Polo Bar? It sounds like they are going to try to make a space for Ralph’s Coffee somewhere else. I’ve been to both places, and have enjoyed them immensely. I hope they can find a way to keep The Polo Bar alive somewhere in New York.

  2. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | April 4, 2017 at 11:05 am |

    Maybe its from all the times I window shopped at RL (for the experience) then proceeded to order what I wanted online.

    That being said, that 5th ave location was open for, what, less than 2 years? Shame. I thought it was a sign of bigger things to come.

  3. Given all the tourists, I thought the store a good ambassador for preppy style.

  4. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | April 4, 2017 at 11:33 am |

    Tourism in NYC… They also closed the Four Seasons restaurant and the Waldorf-Astoria (indefinitely). They should close the MoMA while they’re at it.

  5. FrontPorchLife | April 4, 2017 at 11:55 am |

    Ralph Lauren is struggling obviously because they sacrificed quality for what seemed to be a mainstream fast fashion attempt. The price that they charge for their items is not justifiable when you look at the quality. It makes me think I am only paying for the name, and their pony logo placed on everything really drives my point home! They can do what they want but I will continue to thrift vintage PRL items and wear them at a fraction of the cost.

  6. With the proximity to Trump Tower, I’d be looking to move on, too. That’s not meant to be taken as a political statement–when I was last in The City during the Thanksgiving time period last fall, the entire area was just a zoo due to the security and re-routed traffic. I enjoyed visiting the store, but getting in and leaving were unpleasant experiences.

  7. Yeah, there are a bunch of restaurants in the area of T***p Tower that are probably hurting for business. The Polo Bar is quite nearby. I expect lots of the restaurants in that area will probably close or move.

  8. Did anyone else get the email regarding their factory line getting its own website? I wonder if these are at all related. It looks like the website is still in beta – as no products have been posted yet.

    See here: http://bit.ly/2n86bq7

  9. FrontPorch, my sentiments exactly. I hope they don’t close the Polo Bar. I’d be surprised if they did, each time I dined there it was busy.

  10. Also, the Waldorf is not closing indefinitely it’s undergoing renovations for 3 years to have some rooms converted into apartments. As for the Four Seasons, it is being moved to Park Ave. and will remain open. I didn’t think of the commotion around Trump Tower as being a factor in this store closing, but it might be. When I was there around Christmas it was pretty hectic. Then again, there were more people in the area which should have given the store more patrons. I think it’s just because the company isn’t doing well, they’ve become fast fashion. 50 years of Polo but the last 20 haven’t been so great.

  11. A Trad Confused | April 4, 2017 at 1:57 pm |

    RL is a complete disaster. I hope they can recover.

  12. Seems the downturn of the Polo fortunes coincides with the inordinately scaled logos and horribly tightly fitting costumes.

    I am wearing my decades old Polo khakis and OCBD, properly proportioned for a fellow 6’3″ and 175 lbs. Small multi-colored horse and rider on the OCBD and no logo on the khakis.

    Will

  13. FrontPorchLife | April 4, 2017 at 3:13 pm |

    GS is right. There is no shortage of foot traffic in NYC. Polo is struggling due to poor management.

  14. Mitchell S. | April 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm |

    First Macy’s closed its doors, now Polo. Is Brooks Brothers next? What has the world come to?

  15. I think these stores overextended.

  16. The T***p Tower commotion is probably unrelated to the store closing, but many Polo Bar customers (and those of other restaurants in the area) are used to pulling up to their lunch spots in limos. Street closures and general commotion in the area will really hurt eateries like Polo Bar, Michael’s, Certé, Má Pêche, etc.

  17. Cameron, why can’t you type out “Trump?” Our president’s name isn’t a bad word.

  18. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | April 4, 2017 at 4:31 pm |

    I think cameron’s keyboard is broken or he must be some kind of Ned Flanders kind of character in real life.

  19. It’s not that I can’t type it out, I just prefer not to.

    And I goofed in trying to remember the name of the posh French place up the block from Michael’s, I fired up Google Maps and saw the name Certé, but after hitting the post button I realized that Benoit is the place I was thinking of.

  20. Given it’s a name we read or hear mentioned 100 times a day….

  21. The T***p Tower devise is something I would expect from a snowflake.

  22. Anonymous | April 4, 2017 at 7:27 pm |

    Mention of Polo Bar makes me wonder: Whatever happened to Brooks Brothers Steakhouse planned for the old J Press space on 44th St?

  23. Polo is facing increasing external competition from similar entry level lifestyle/luxury brands (Vineyard Vines, J.Crew, Southern Tide etc.) as well as internally from their Lauren license and their Factory stores. They’ve cut quality about as much as they can. Real Estate in NYC is absurd and I don’t blame them for reigning in costs. They don’t want to go the way of A&F; their recent experiments with massive logos and S/M/L sizes were too close for comfort to A&F.

    Does this mark the beginning of the end for Nacho Figueras?

  24. sacksuit, that’s how I took it.

  25. Nacho will always have polo, even if Polo won’t always have him.

  26. Brooks Brothes recently announced that on April 20, 2017, it is closing its large store in Deer Park, Illinois, a suburb in a very afluent area in the near north Chicago land area.

    In my humble opinion, the problem is that a lot of guys just do not know or care how to dress properly. Frankly, this is clearly a lack of self respect on their part. I appear in Court in downtown Chicago, Illinois, about twice a week. I cannot tell you how badly some of these lawyers are dressed when they appear in Court. I am not talking about non ivy clothes. I am talking about ill fitting cheap clothing, dirty unpressed trousers and jackets, beat up dirty CHEAP shoes. No I am not talking about cracked leather old expensive shoes.

    Unfortunately, theses fellows do not know or care about the impression they leave on their clients, the Judges, and their colleagues. Sorry, I just had to get this off my chest.

  27. The San Francisco store closed over three years ago followed by the Palo Alto
    store. Saks has consolidated its’ Union Square mens store from a separate
    six floor building where it operated for 19 years to one floor in the main (women’s)
    Saks store. Not that Polo and Saks compete directly, but both seem to victims of
    the decline in tailored clothing and the internet and trendy rivals such as Suit
    Supply.

  28. Personally, I stopped shopping at polo due to a bad customer service experience with a store manager last Christmas. As others have noted the fit and quality has been an issue as of late anyhow, so that was the nail in the coffin for me. Admittedly, the issue I was discussing with her was a toss up (issue on price), but it was the manner and tone in which she reacted that blew me away. Time to move on.

    Like A&F, I feel like if they go back to their roots they’ll regain a whole new set of customers and likely keep a lot of the younger crowd, but I’m sure they all had expert consultants and MBA types tell them that trendy skin tight men’s clothes were the way to succeed… meh.. (no offense all you MBA’s – that’s a joke around my house, as my wife fits that bill!)

  29. Wait, the SF RL store closed? Palo Alto, too?

    I remember visiting the Palo Alto store while on assignment for RL Mag doing the Tesla story. They gave me the car for the afternoon and I think I went to that mall for lunch and window shopping.

  30. WFBjr:

    If you are still planning on being in the vicinity of Beverly Hills the week of the 16th, shoot me an email; I’m always up for dinner or drinks!

  31. T. Bearden | April 5, 2017 at 8:54 am |

    The preppy kids in my area prefer Vineyard Vines. RL isn’t even on their radar, even though there’s an RL factory store about 15 minutes away.

  32. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | April 5, 2017 at 9:24 am |

    They say they will save approx. $400 million from closing stores and layoffs. That’s a big chunk of change. That’s a lot of closed stores.

    That being said, that 5th avenue store was pretty high tech. Holograms, interactive mirrors (supposedly): all that stuff doesn’t sound cheap.

  33. In my experience, use of the term “snowflake” is like use of the term “judicial activism”: those who complain loudest about it in others are usually the ones who clutch their pearls the hardest when they perceive some slight to their own beliefs.

    With that out of the way: 1) I liked the way the Polo RL polo shirts used to fit, as opposed to BB or others, but the fit no longer seems (to me) as uniform as in the past?; 2) CC – will there be a call for photo submissions with the new club tie?; and 3) beyond Beverly Hills, is there a national cocktail tour in the works? As to the last: if not, there should be.

  34. @Paul

    Get more experience.

    With that out of the way, I agree with you that the RL Polo (mesh golf shirt) was the best in the business. I would have paid more for no logo but that was never an option except for the Polo Golf label which did not fit as well. The custom fit one size up actually appealed to me.

    Will

  35. @sacksuit, you make my point for me: suggesting that I should ‘get more experience’ – until, presumably, I agree with you on whatever issue – is nothing more than ethical/political/conversational relativism.

    I don’t know why “custom fit” for RL always seemed to mean ‘small’: as you say, you had to go one-size up to get it right with the mesh polos.

    And to end re: logos – I read somewhere that Coco Chanel once said, “Labels are for people with no style of their own.”

  36. Christian Chensvold once said “People who are virulently anti-logo must have their sense of self easily threatened.”

  37. If Coco really said that it’s a good thing she isn’t around to see what her company has become. Custom fit is a slimmer, trendier fit but even classic fit isn’t a true, classic fit at Polo anymore. As for logos, I don’t think about them too much. The only logoed clothes I wear are polo shirts (RL and Lacoste) and those logos are small and classic.

  38. I submit that the practical man takes the middle road: finds the shirt he likes the fit of, and endures the logo if he must. That’s been my approach, anyway.

  39. Charlottesville | April 5, 2017 at 1:29 pm |

    Sorry that Polo seems to have run its course but, as mentioned by others above, the shrunken fit, giant logos, etc. have made it hard for me to shop there for a few years. As also mentioned above, it is true that most younger men no longer know or care how to dress properly, and the “preppy” few seem to gravitate to Vineyard Vines, Southern Proper, Country Club Prep, and other newer brands that produce endless novelty print ties, short-collared OCBDs, and darted, 2-button blazers. All that being said, I hope the Rhinelander remains open. What a beautiful store, even if most of the tailored clothing is not what it used to be. The 5th Ave. store was mostly for tourists and had almost a Times Square feel. It is not a place I will miss.

  40. I’m sorry that you see logos as so dreadful that you feel that one must “endure” them on a shirt one likes. I just don’t think about them but I don’t hate them.

  41. You “don’t think about them” enough to post online about them several times a day …

  42. You began the conversation on logos and I am just repeating my stance that they aren’t as important as you’re making them out to be.

  43. @Paul

    Non-snowflakes typically don’t expect or care if snowflakes agrees with them.

    Will

  44. @sacksuit: you “don’t care”, and yet here you are continuing this conversation and tell me what you think I ought to be doing …

  45. @GS: if you look carefully above, I think you’ll see that sacksuit and I were discussing logos, and you stepped in – I think three times now – to tell us how little you think about them.

  46. Carefully-crafted nonchalance only works if you’re good at it, gentlemen.

  47. @Paul

    Be calm, we will get through this together. Have a gin and tonic and look at a Playboy.

    Will

  48. Hey Paul. I agree. If the shirt fits and works, then the logo disappears into the background. Bye the Bye, are you a gin man. I figured you as a single malt scotch man.

  49. .weston.pecos. | April 5, 2017 at 9:14 pm |

    When Polo and BB are gone, I’ll still have LL Bean. They’re timeless, not trendy.

  50. Actually, Paul, my initial remark on logos was that I don’t wear many clothes with logos. My second remark on logos was made in reference to your suggestion that one must endure logos on nice shirts, which I found ridiculous. I “stepped in” a public conversation and you tried to say that I have made several posts about logos when, at the time of your comment, I only made two. If you look carefully, you’ll see that I only made two comments on logos in total; an initial remark and a reply to your statement. Again, all I said was that they aren’t important therefor I cannot see how one must endure them, as if having a nice, well-fitting shirt that happens to have a logo is so awful. You’re the one who seems to have a problem with logos and I just don’t understand why.

  51. I have always loved the brand and shopped there often but here’s the root cause of RL’s issue at the moment…it’s quite simply hard to square the American heritage Ralph Lauren concept with the “Made in China” on virtually every piece they sell…the quality became abysmal.

  52. Harold, the ties are now the only items I wish to purchase from Polo. Funny to think that the company started out 50 years ago making ties only and now the only thing they still make well is ties. At least their ties never suffered in quality…

  53. Charlottesville | April 6, 2017 at 2:26 pm |

    I agree on the ties. As with Brooks, I can’t say much for tailored items at Polo these days. Are the Polo socks still any good? I think their dress socks were among the best back in the 80s and 90s, but I have not looked at the current offerings. At Brooks, I can still sometimes find ties, socks, boxers, pajamas and the like.

  54. Their socks, from my experience, do not last. Where were they made back in the day? These days, they’re made in some third world country.

  55. Charlottesville | April 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm |

    Thanks, GS. I am not sure where they used to be made, but I think it may have been the UK. I still have a few pairs, which is remarkable after what must be at least 15 years. At that time, I think they cost $18.50. I have mixed success with Brooks. Lands End, of all places, used to have excellent OTC dress socks. I have numerous pairs in both cotton and wool that are still going strong after 10 years. Not sure what they offer these days.

  56. Wow, the last Polo socks I purchased lasted about one year. They wore out at the backs of the heels quickly and were made of mostly polyester. I know Brooks still carries British-made argyles in crew and calf length at about 20$ or so. I’ll have to try them out.

  57. Wine cooler.

  58. polo had great quality
    i did buy some boxer briefs at a feline’s basement that literally lasted a decade – the elastic never gave out like with other brands… but i always thought it was too ‘obvious’ to point of being a costume., still i have to admit a lot of times they were the only one making exactly what i was looking for

  59. I want to see Ralph come out of this. As I’ve said before, the problem revolves around going public. Clothing companies should never do it.

    He built his brand on aspiration, yet there is no aspiration in being able to pick up his shirts at TJ Maxx for $29.99.

    In a dream world, Ralph would do the following:

    1. Take the company off the stock exchange like Tommy Hilfiger did, and stop worrying about pressure from the investors.

    2. Pull the Polo logo off ALL of the clothing for three years except for the white Polo shirts. Never let that shirt go on sale.

    3. Pull the brand from TJ Maxx / Marshalls and any other discounters to stop oversaturation.

    4. Shift sizing back to what it used to be, at the very least before the rolled Rugby into the Blue line.

    Unfortunately, none of this will happen.

    As for the store, unfortunately the future of clothing will be online sales and outlet malls in remote locations.

  60. Benjamin, I agree that going public was a death sentence for the brand and that he should pull out but I’m not so sure that things worked out so well for TH as his brand is now owned by PVH. He lost control of his brand either way whereas Ralph still has some semblance of control. I also agree that they should limit the usage of their logo to shirts and maybe the caps to keep it exclusive, they have oversaturated the clothes with it, making it too ubiquitous. He should pull the brand from all low end stores, including Macy’s, Ralph said for a long time that he never wanted to sell there imagine what he feels about T.J. Maxx. Sizing and fits need to be brought back to classic and then they should work on quality, right now they’re just relying on their name, which is working to an extent.

  61. Michael Brady | April 11, 2017 at 2:48 pm |

    PRL is a victim of it’s own success. I had a friend who worked for them in the prime years. He would tell me of the struggle to avoid having to sell stores that had no clue what Polo was and didn’t have the customer for it anyway. Then the pressure to put the “mule”, as he called it, on everything became irresistible as the department stores like Macy’s were brought into the fold. PRL continued to grow in volume, but the specialty stores looked elsewhere for the edge to remain unique from the mass merchants. Lastly, the factory store outlet malls and their strategy of facsimile merchandising, along with Docker’s “casual Friday” marketing, sealed the fate.

    PRL can exist at some level, but they have to decide whether to court the true believer or the logo-conscious bargain hunters. They can no longer have their way with both.

  62. Michael, that’s very interesting but I believe that Ralph has checked out and the now massive company is just selling a brand name. The original meaning of Polo and all it stood for is gone.

  63. Michael Brady | April 11, 2017 at 10:40 pm |

    GS, your answers just before and after my comment seem completely contradictory. I would not foresee a turnaround without Ralph or his son being directly involved. He has definitely not “checked out” and was instrumental in the forced resignation of the chief executive recently. Your response to Benjamin seems spot-on to me.

  64. “Brooks Brothes recently announced that on April 20, 2017, it is closing its large store in Deer Park, Illinois, a suburb in a very afluent area in the near north Chicago land area.”

    For years my neighborhood Brooks was in Northbrook Court. They closed that, but opened in Deer Park. Now they are closing Deer Park, too? That leaves Old Orchard, Oakbrook, or O’Hare. A pattern is beginning to emerge. Next store opening? Oswego!

  65. Mike Brady? Polo U?

  66. Michael Brady | April 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm |

    ….maybe……, who’s asking?

  67. At $3,000 a foot, I can see why they are shutting the doors for the obvious. Plus NYC is going to get hit with loss of tourism this year in part to Trump.

  68. @ROI

    Don’t forget you’ve got two more locations downtown. Im very fond of the one in the loop even though I don’t work near there.

  69. @GS

    When roughly 25% of the company’s sales come from Macy’s, there is no way the investors will let him pull out even though the department store model, and that chain in particular, is in decline.

  70. Vern Trotter | May 18, 2017 at 11:41 am |

    A new CEO today from P&G. Only 52, he was one of the rising stars there. Rumor has it they may be looking for a takeover from somebody.

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