American Marketer

Events / Causes

Ralph Lauren flaunts craftsmanship through Harrods handbag event

September 25, 2012


London-based retailer Harrods is hosting two events during which guests will interact with an artisan from Ralph Lauren’s Italy-based factory and learn about the bespoke options available for the label’s Ricky Bag.

Harrods is looking to trigger purchases from guests by letting them order a personalized handbag and shop the new Ralph Lauren collection at the event. Since craftsmanship often sets the price of luxury goods, physical interactions seem to be an effective way to show that brands are not skimping on production costs.

“I think there is some blow-back from the Olympics, where it was discovered that Ralph Lauren’s uniforms for the United States were made in China,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR, Miami.

“This would show that [designer] Ralph Lauren is more than just a brand manager, and that there is actual quality in the product,” she said.

“It will avoid the perception, right or wrong, that everything is made in China, and that craftsmanship is left behind in favor of lower costs.”

Ms. Rosenblum is not affiliated with Ralph Lauren, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Harrods was not available for comment. Ralph Lauren did not respond before press deadline.

Got it in the bag

Harrods will hold its four-hour Ralph Lauren handbag events Sept. 28 and 29 from 2-6 p.m. in its first-floor Ralph Lauren Collection & Accessories Corner.

The events will center on the making of the Ricky Bag that is named for the designer’s wife. The bag runs upwards of $22,500 on the label's U.S. ecommerce site.

Crocodile Ricky Bag

Each bag is made by hand from a custom pattern. One bag can take up to 12 hours to create, per Harrods.

Attendees will hear about the craftsmanship behind the bag, get information on the Made to Order program, be able to purchase a custom Ricky bag and shop Ralph Lauren’s new collection.

Personalized options include exclusive fabrics, colors, hardware and an engraved interior plaque.

Guests will be served Champagne and macaroons.




Harrods store window

Talk the talk

Some luxury marketers are using events to stay on the radar of brand loyalists and high-net-worth consumers.

Since more brand interactions are happening on the digital channel, this strategy can help to strengthen relationships between marketers and their customers by putting a face, or product, to a name.

For instance, Italian automaker Maserati invited a select number of consumers to a new experience in Europe during which attendees could sail on the Maserati VOR 70 monohull and drive models in its current range including the new Maserati GranTurismo Sport.

Four Maserati models were displayed at the port while guests sailed with skipper and two-time winner of the Around Alone global solo race Giovanni Soldini (see story).

In addition, Scottish brand John Walker & Sons is inviting select guests in Asia-Pacific on board a branded yacht to partake in activities that will explore the history of the brand and showcase the new triple malt John Walker & Sons Odyssey.

John Walker & Sons’ strategy combines one-on-one interactions with brand centric-entertainment with a goal of reaching the surge of millionaires under the age of 45 in Asia-Pacific (see story).

Events give luxury marketers a chance to provide something that digital channels cannot – a physical representation of the craftsmanship behind a product.

Therefore, it is beneficial for luxury marketers to have events to show the reasoning behind a purchase and keep up with the competition.

“There is a real perception that quality is declining overall because so many brands are doing low-cost country sourcing, so by demonstrating craftsmanship, you are implying an authenticity that customers have come to be skeptical about,” Ms. Rosenblum said.

“This creates a new problem that I have seen in the market,” she said. “There is a real bifurcation of products, so it is important for a luxury brand to reestablish itself at the high end of that spectrum.”

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York