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Style File

Major Fashion Shake-up

Ralph Lauren Relinquishes CEO Title, Hands Reins to Wonder Swede

BY // 09.29.15

Ralph Lauren, who has been at the helm of his fashion empire for 48 years, has chosen Old Navy’s president, Stefan Larsson, as his successor. Lauren, 75, is keeping the design chief title for the company, which had $7.6 billion in sales in its latest fiscal year.

The 41-year-old Larsson — who will report to Lauren –— has been in his role at the Gap-owned Old Navy since 2012 and spent 15 years before that at H&M. When Larsson assumes his new post in November, Lauren will remain executive chairman and chief creative officer. Larsson, who is Swedish, will also join the company’s board.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work directly and collaboratively with a fashion giant like Ralph Lauren,” Larsson says in a statement. “His creativity and singular vision have made Ralph Lauren one of the world’s most influential global brands, and I share his dreams for the future. I believe the company has tremendous potential to continue expanding in the global marketplace as it broadens its appeal to all consumers.”

The announcement puts into motion a succession at the brand, and follows on the heels of a similar move by Donna Karan, who stepped down from her company earlier this year.

Shares of Ralph Lauren have lost almost half of their value this year, and analysts say that Larsson, who is credited with reviving sales at Old Navy, is expected to help boost the company’s bottom line.

“My job is to think always about the future of our company and how to move it forward,” Lauren says. “Stefan Larsson is exceptionally talented, and he will bring our company a fresh and exciting global perspective. Stefan and I have a strong personal bond and share a vision for the future of Ralph Lauren. I appreciate Stefan’s unique sensibility, his honesty and his authenticity.

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“We have had tremendous success expanding the Ralph Lauren brands around the world and creating a great management team. Now, all the pieces are in place to position our business for continued growth. We have been a leader in our industry for nearly 50 years, and this is just the beginning.”

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