Ralph Lauren could let people dye their own polo shirts next year to attract new customers

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A US Polo Association storefront is seen in the Times Square retail store in New York City on March 30, 2015
  • Ralph Lauren said its flagship New York stores have dyeing technology that could allow customers to dye their own clothes by next year.
  • The project was originally developed to improve the iconic clothing company’s environmental footprint in the manufacturing process.
  • This DIY component of Ralph Lauren’s production line could use an “experiential retail” model to attract people to stores.

Ralph Lauren is putting part of its production process in the hands of customers, as companies turn to the experiential retail model to attract customers to stores.

The fashion company, known for its iconic polo shirts, has revealed that its flagship stores will be equipped with new textile coloring technology that could potentially allow shoppers to dye shirts in-store as early as next year, CNBC told CNBC a Ralph Lauren partner on technology.

Details of the in-store dyeing process, which are still largely unknown and under development, would allow a customer to take one of Ralph Lauren’s white cotton t-shirts or polo shirts, pick a color, and have it dyed. Color on Demand technology. product in store immediately prior to purchase.

Giving the consumer some creative agency in the production process “has always been a powerful thing,” Simeon Siegel, retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets, told CNBC. “Bringing the consumer into the story has always been a winning proposition.”

As the consumer economy reappears from the coronavirus pandemic, retailers will need to balancing e-commerce with their brick and mortar models, which may mean moving towards converting department stores to “experiential retailRelying on customization and speedy production. Previously, Ralph Lauren allowed customers to participate in the production experience, personalizing the colors of its iconic sewing horse crest on garments purchased online.

“The store will become more experiential every day,” added Siegel. “The trick is knowing how to leverage it to sell more stuff.”

Earlier this year, Ralph Lauren said it had partnered with several materials, textiles and chemicals companies, including Dow, to develop a more environmentally friendly production process that uses less water, energy and harmful chemicals. The companies announced in March a new system called “Color on Demand”, comprising a new textile treatment called ECOFAST Pure, which uses up to 40% less water, 85% less chemicals and 90% less energy than traditional dyeing processes.

“Ralph Lauren is obviously a heavy user of cotton and to dye textiles you need a lot of chemicals and a lot of water and you generate a lot of waste and mainly you do it because you are trying to use heat and pressure. to put that dye on the fabric, ”said Jim Fitterling, CEO of chemical company Dow, at a CNBC summit on corporate sustainability and environmentalism.

New dye system could help Ralph Lauren plan better in the middle supply constraints that many retailers continue to face, allowing them to “better balance inventory” and more effectively anticipate demand for their products without having to worry about order details like color.

Ralph lauren said in a press release that it aims to use on-demand color in more than 80% of the company’s solid-color cotton products by 2025. The company also announced earlier this month that it would open the dyeing process for the textile industry.


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