Ralph Lauren Corp.’s American Dream hasn’t always been for everyone. It’s hoping to change that.
Amid a broad corporate reflection on race, the company is re-evaluating its marketing and how it projects American success in an effort to draw from more diverse sources, according to Chief Executive Officer Patrice Louvet. The decision follows conversations management has held with Black colleagues and external groups over racial injustice since the police killing of George Floyd in May sparked nationwide protests.
“We are examining how we portray the American Dream, in the stories we tell, the creators we champion and the faces we elevate,” Louvet said Tuesday on a call after the company reported quarterly earnings.
Louvet didn’t share details of how a broadened American Dream ideal would coalesce in products and marketing, but said the preliminary review is “only the beginning.”
The review marks a rare acknowledgment from an established brand that it needs to broaden its appeal to a more diverse set of shoppers. Last year, Banana Republic widened its range of product colours to match skin tones and sell more sizes. Estee Lauder told employees in June that it would use more Black models and offer more makeup shades and formulas.
Ralph Lauren’s diversity pledges extend beyond marketing. The company said it would ensure that people of colour represent at least 20% of its global leaders and it will interview two underrepresented candidates for every open leadership role. Executives are also reviewing their media partners and instituting diversity expectations for vendors.
Rags to Riches
The concept of the American Dream has been core to Ralph Lauren’s branding from the beginning, built from the founder’s self-made rags-to-riches story growing up as the son of immigrant parents in the Bronx. His inspirations come from varying parts of American history, including the romanticized cowboys of the Old West, the Gatsby-esque years of the Roaring ’20s and American soldiers in World War II.
More recent sources of his idealized dream come from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Frank Sinatra, vintage cars and exclusive country clubs — the sort of old-money lifestyle he didn’t have access to as a kid. Last year, the local newspaper in East Hampton, New York, called his clothes a “distillation of peak East Coast WASP society,” using an acronym to refer to White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)