The Rhinelander Mansion
There is a beautiful old New York mansion on the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and 72nd Street in the Lennox Hill section of Manhattan. No longer known by its original name, the famous Gertrude Rhinelander Mansion is now the world retail headquarters of Ralph Lauren’s fashion empire.
Inside this remarkable old building, the master merchandisers at Lauren have created a sales environment that – while it has been copied by every fashion retailer in America – is still the best ever concocted.
As you walk from room to room, you go from a different Ralph Lauren fantasy to another. In this room, you are on Jermyn Street in London, shopping for waist coasts, studs and cufflinks.
Step three feet into another space and you’re on safari. Now you’re in a swell New York nightclub in the roaring 20’s. Upstairs you emerge into Ralph’s version of the American West, right down to the blanket coats and boot-cut jeans. Again, a few steps away and you’re on a beach in St. Barts.
For me, it is still the most remarkable, nuanced job of branding, merchandising and marketing clothing I have ever seen. In each space, the environment, the props, the wallpaper, the carpet – everything – makes you want to buy their stuff.
How do you add value? How do you justify $145 for swim trunks that others sell for $60? Come pay a visit to 867 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. You’ll find out.