Ralph Lauren, the celebrity designer who has defined American fashion for decades, is leaving his role as CEO of the company he founded 48 years ago. Stefan Larsson, a former H&M executive and president of the Old Navy at Gap, will replace Lauren.
Lauren, 75, told the New York Times he plans to remain active in the company as executive chairman and chief creative officer. His move away from the longtime role comes following a rocky year for the apparel company: revenue dropped 5.3% year-over-year, and the company’s share price has fallen about 44% this year.
Larsson, a veteran of retailer H&M, took over Old Navy in 2012 and is credited with reviving the chain. Even as Gap sales have slumped, Larsson managed to bolster the Old Navy brand. Larsson will join the board and take on his new role as chief executive in November.
Ralph Lauren joins a handful of other American fashion houses going through a changeover. Earlier this year, Donna Karen stepped down from the company that she founded. Oscar de La Renta left his namesake in 2014 before he died. And Calvin Klein left his company in 2002.
Ralph Lauren encompass more than 20 brands, including its Polo Ralph Lauren line. Lauren popularized both a Western cowboy aesthetic (red-white-and-blue color schemes, leather boots) and the preppy country club look (cable sweaters, the iconic polo logo) throughout his reign over he company. In recent years, the company has focused on the luxury aspect of its brand with international customers as their main target. They recently hired St. Laurent’s Valerie Hermann to make luxury a separate unit in their business.