We visited Ralph Lauren’s flagship Polo store hours after the company said it would close

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Mary Hanbury

Ralph Lauren announced on Tuesday it would close its flagship Polo store in New York in less than two weeks.

The Fifth Avenue location is one of dozens of stores the company will shutter in an effort to cut costs and improve efficiency.

In the last quarter, same-store sales declined 5% compared with the same period in 2016.

The brand is struggling to connect with millennials, stay relevant, and keep up with fast-fashion brands like H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara.

We visited Ralph Lauren’s Polo store on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday. It was full of unfashionable clothes and lacked shoppers despite being on one of the busiest streets in New York. Take a look inside:

Here’s my opinion of why the business is in trouble.


Ralph Lauren’s Polo flagship is at 711 Fifth Ave., next to stores like Gucci and Armani. This strip of Fifth Avenue is one of the most exclusive shopping spots in the world.

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Mary Hanbury

The Polo brand is known for its signature preppy style, which was on full display in a storefront window.

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Mary Hanbury

But the display was drab and had a washed-out feel to it. Nothing stood out.

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Mary Hanbury

That stood in stark contrast to the inside of the store, where we found row upon row of polo shirts in garish colors. The Polo logos varied in size, but some were unfashionably large.

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Mary Hanbury

The shirts we saw cost $85 and up — hard to justify when a similar cotton polo shirt costs $10 at H&M.

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Mary Hanbury

The mannequins in the front of the store were poorly dressed. Here, a men’s bathing suit is squashed under a pair of unzipped jeans.

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Mary Hanbury

The menswear section was neatly laid out and felt uncrowded, which was a plus. However, most of the clothing collections were grouped by color, which made it hard for any product to stand out.

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Mary Hanbury

One room was awash with beige suits. We found it hard to see how this clothing would appeal to the modern urban man.

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Mary Hanbury

Unless you are channeling the “Downton Abbey” look, we can’t see how these suits would be practical in New York City.

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Mary Hanbury

The jackets on display also looked wrinkled …

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Mary Hanbury

… as did the ties, which looked like they had been taken out of a box and not properly steamed.

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Mary Hanbury

Ralph Lauren had a great selection of colored chinos, but again, they seemed overpriced. At $125 a pair, they cost $85 more than a similar pair of pants at Uniqlo.

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Mary Hanbury

There were only a handful of people in the store when we visited on a Tuesday morning. The menswear section was empty …

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Mary Hanbury

… as was the women’s section of the store. Multiple people were working, but there was no one for them to help.

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Mary Hanbury

There was a selection of khaki-clothed mannequins in the women’s section. A lot of the styles on display seemed dated.

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Mary Hanbury

There was a similar selection of polo shirts in the women’s section. These shirts looked suitable for tennis, but we struggled to see how these would appeal to younger shoppers.

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Mary Hanbury

Women’s items that seemed targeted to younger shoppers weren’t particularly trendy or exciting.

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Mary Hanbury

There was also a strange selection of accessories like this shawl …

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Mary Hanbury

… and jewelry.

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Mary Hanbury

Some sections of womenswear had a limited stock. A representative for Ralph Lauren said any unsold clothing would be sent to the other locations when the store closes.

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Mary Hanbury

But there were few discounted items in the store, and those that were on sale had only a small reduction in price.

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Mary Hanbury

We noticed that some of the women’s clothing looked grubby. This navy jacket had dust on the front.

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Mary Hanbury

One dress that cost $245 had small stains.

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Mary Hanbury

The store also had a kid’s section with clothes just as expensive as adults’ in some cases. One navy wool jacket cost $295.

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Mary Hanbury

The clothing was an odd mix of expensive formalwear and casualwear. This tie-and-denim-jacket combo seemed like an uncomfortable choice for kids.

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Mary Hanbury

We took a look around the changing rooms and found that they were empty.

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Mary Hanbury

And there were no lines for the cashiers.

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Mary Hanbury

The interior of the store still feels cool, with some great artwork and decor. But the merchandise is expensive, and the clothing seems dated. We probably wouldn’t buy anything here unless there was a big sale.

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Mary Hanbury