Ralph Lauren has signed a long-term agreement with the family-owned, Michigan-based Haworth Lifestyle Design group to expand the production and distribution of Ralph Lauren’s luxury furniture business.
Starting on April 1, 2024, Haworth will do the heavy lifting in product development, sourcing, manufacturing, product marketing and wholesale account management for the brand’s line of Italian-made furniture.
Most significantly, Haworth will be responsible for opening a yet-to-be-determined number of standalone Ralph Lauren Home stores to present the brand’s lifestyle vision across all categories of home, including lighting, floor coverings, fabric and wall coverings, bedding, bath, tabletop, decorative accessories and gifts.
“Home is a high potential category for us,” said Guillaume Tardy, RL’s chief lifestyle and licensing officer, in a statement. “And working with Haworth Lifestyle Design will allow us to leverage their expertise in craftsmanship, manufacturing and customer service, as well as to expand distribution of our luxury furniture, further accelerating the growth of Ralph Lauren Home around the world.”
This year marks Ralph Lauren’s 40th anniversary in the home market after it exploded onto the scene in 1983 with a full range of furnishings to let people not just dress in but live the ultra-luxurious Ralph Lauren lifestyle.
The Business of Home reports that at its peak, Ralph Lauren’s home business may have reached $500 million in sales, but those numbers are hard to verify as a licensed business.
The company doesn’t report its home business segment, but licensing revenues across limited apparel, eyewear, fragrances, and home furnishings brought in only about $160 million of its $6.4 billion revenues last year.
However, it reports that its largest licenses in home are lighting with Visual Comfort of America and bedding and blankets with Hollander Sleep and Decor, now operating under the name of Keeco.
There’s no mention of furniture in its list of major licenses, suggesting it missed the post-pandemic surge in the luxury home furnishings market, which grew a stunning 24% from 2019 through 2022 when it reached $58 billion, according to the Bain-Altagamma luxury report. This year, it will be lucky to hold onto those gains, with Bain estimating the segment will range from – 2% to 2% growth.
Ralph Lauren’s primary competitor in the luxury home space, RH advanced over 40% from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $3.8 billion in 2022, though in its most recent year, it dropped to $3.6 billion.
Since 2020, Ralph Lauren’s upholstery and case goods furniture was produced under license with Theodore Alexander and sold on the RL website and through a number of wholesale accounts, including Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. There also is one dedicated Ralph Lauren Home store in Dallas, which moved this year from Highland Park Village to its current location in the Knox Street area.
If timing is everything, one might expect this new agreement with Haworth to be late on arrival, but that would be underestimating the strength Haworth brings to the partnership.
Under the arrangement, the announcement states, “Ralph Lauren and Haworth Lifestyle Design will closely collaborate to bring the Ralph Lauren Home experience to consumers, partnering on design, marketing, and selection of store locations and store designs.”
Taking It To The Next Level
In Haworth, Ralph Lauren may have found the right partner to bring the brand back to its glory days in home.
As a brand, Haworth is known primarily for office furniture, where it competes with the $4 billion MillerKnoll
But beyond the Haworth brand, it includes a wide range of distinguished luxury furniture brands highly respected in the interior design trade, the place where luxury consumers turn when making their furniture design choices.
“Ralph Lauren’s partnership with Haworth further confirms their desire to dominate the luxury home design segment,” observed Chris Ramey, founder of The Home Trust International. “Haworth’s portfolio of brands in the luxury design segment is second to none. They are uniquely qualified to manage Ralph Lauren Home.”
Its brands include Cappellini, Cassina, JANUS et Cie, Karakter, Zanotta, Poltrona Fra, Luminaire, among others. It also is the licensee for Dolce & Gabbana Casa, Versace Home, Trussardi Casa, Bentley Home and Bugatti Home, so its bona fides in the luxury market are sealed.
“Haworth has the right brand architecture for success in the future,” shared Chandler Mount, founder of the Affluent Consumer Research Company, with which I am affiliated. “Overall, it seems that both Ralph Lauren and Haworth will mutually benefit from the agreement.
“RL earns a historied partner built for scale in the future luxury home furniture market – that’s a rare find – and Haworth gets the opportunity to represent a brand with an excellent reputation and brand awareness among the high-net-worth affluent consumers who are its loyal fans,” he concluded.