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Ralph lauren creates a nostalgic dream for jc penny

February 12, 2008

Department stores have been trying for years to turn their private label offerings into real brands.

Most attempts have failed because they are just names with no deeper meanings making it impossible for them to compete with the genuine article.

JC Penny clearly understood the weakness in this approach and went outside to the brand master, Ralph Lauren to create its latest offering, American Living.

What’s interesting about this concept, is although it has touches of Lauren’s style all over it, he’s created another world for the department store. Lauren’s past success has been driven by the clever balancing act between present and past, His ideas were classical, but they were always believable in a contemporary context.

American Living is different, it’s unabashed in highlighting the past as its inspiration. The web site suggests that the concept is anchored around the General Store and is rooted in a time when American’s were practical, had a sense of humor and dreamed of a better life. This is no daily commute from the suburbs.

It’s fascinating to see such a shift to the past in a country that’s usually so wrapped up in the future.

Something has changed and perhaps the future no longer looks so bright.

In such a world, we are going to cling to the icons of the past for re-assurance and confirmation of who we are and where we stand.

American Living is just one example of the nostalgia for the past that America is now craving in everything from its cars to its politicians.

It’s a force that cannot be ignored.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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