Ralph Lauren, the designer and founder of the namesake brand, made headlines after naming a new CEO to Ralph Lauren Corp. yesterday. But he wants to be clear that he's still very much holding the reins.
In a letter to employees today obtained by BuzzFeed News, Lauren said he wants "to be clear about what this means for my role and lay to rest any misconceptions about what some of the press reported yesterday."
"The Ralph Lauren Corporation is the company I founded, nurtured and love," the 75-year-old wrote. "I am not stepping down, nor am I stepping back. I am stepping up."
The full memo is included below.
The company said yesterday that Stefan Larsson, the global president of Gap's Old Navy and a leader at H&M before that, will become CEO in November and report to Lauren. Lauren will "continue to actively drive the company's vision and strategy" as executive chairman and chief creative officer, according to a statement.
The executive may be feeling slighted after Ralph Lauren's stock, which fell more than 40% this year through yesterday, jumped after news of Larsson's appointment. Many outlets reported that Lauren is stepping down and that Larsson is "taking over."
The New York Times described the management change as "the coming end of a golden era of American postwar designers," citing the exits of Donna Karan and Calvin Klein from their namesake brands, while Bloomberg News said Ralph Lauren as a company is "a bit stodgy and stale," and quoted an analyst saying the brand needs "a serious face-lift."
"My job is to think about the future and how to move forward, and I am confident that Stefan Larsson will be a wonderful business partner to help carry out this shared vision," Lauren said in the letter to employees. "As the largest shareholder, I will continue to nurture and grow this company."
Lauren has led the company for about 48 years. The retailer brought in about $7.6 billion in sales in its most recent year.