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Not all that cash came from sales of $650 monogrammed velvet slippers, of course; countless shoppers contented themselves with a $39 polo shirt at one of the company's outlet stores. But veteran apparel reporter Teri Agins, author of the seminal book The End of Fashion, credits David Lauren's fantasy-rooted marketing for quietly channeling each tier of shopper to his or her respective Ralph Lauren brand, where "everybody can feel like they have a piece. It's a magnificent example of a company that's been able to play all the keys on the piano," she says.
And the tune goes on. A big part of David's task is selling Ralph's world to the world of tomorrow. The marketing department just launched its opening salvo with the RL Gang, a children's storybook available both online and in print that features a band of painfully adorable kids out adventuring in their tweeds, vests and bow ties.
It need be said that not everyone is destined to dream of a life in private libraries and polo fields, as David Lauren will freely admit. But company sales have proven that millions of Americans do. And so long as they continue to, David Lauren will be ready for them. "Our job," he says, "is to make you dream, to make customers feel they can step into this world. And whether it's creating beautiful stores, beautiful ads or beautiful Web campaigns, wherever you touch the Ralph Lauren brand, you should be feeling like you can connect."
"We were far ahead of the competition in what is today commonplace for many brands," says David Lauren, marketing scion of the fashion house his father created. Case in point: the company's first iPhone app. Launched in 2008, the application debuted "just when we thought iPhone apps couldn't be fashionable," wrote one blogger. Kept rigorously up to date (version 4.0.0 is shown above), the app gives users a peek at the company's latest collections. Much of the buzz, however, centers around that little accessory at the bottom of the screen. The Ricky Bag is handcrafted in Italy from alligator and retails for $16,995. The app affords ladies a 360 degree view of it. Oh, so cruel.