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Is Ralph Lauren right to kick Rugby into touch?

In an industry struggling to kick-start sales in a stagnant economic market, diversification seems to be the buzz word in the high fashion world.

When seeking a rise in profits, luxury labels can’t seem to get enough of their diffusion lines- Versace has Versus, Missoni created M and from Maison Martin Margiela we have the delectable MM6.

The premise of the ever popular designer diffusion range is simple yet effective - to draw in a new and usually younger clientele with lower price tags, without having to alter or dilute the core parent brand. However premium fashion heavy weight Ralph Lauren is bucking the design trend by axing its preppy college line Rugby.

As reported by Drapers, the Americano brand confirmed that it was getting rid of its vintage varsity side-line, closing 14 stores and the online site in 2013. The fashion house expects to record pretax charges of $20m to $30m during the second half of the year, as a result of the discontinuation of Rugby operations.

The shock announcement comes as a result of the company reporting a higher than expected revenue for the second quarter (£1.2bn), and the label now wants to focus all of its resources, financial and otherwise, on “higher growth and more scalable global opportunities” within the flourishing core Ralph Lauren brand. 

With many of designer’s premium fashion counterparts struggling to keep their perfectly coiffed heads above water- Mulberry, Burberry and Hugo Boss have all reported a fall in revenue in the last number of weeks- perhaps consolidating and investing in quality key collections is the way forward in this time of economic uncertainty.

While blowing the final whistle on Rugby may be unfashionable in the current market trend, Ralph Lauren’s stream-lined approach to its branding may just be the remedy to the high-end fashion slump.

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