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Ralph lauren’s cheeseburgers in paris

June 28, 2010

Ralph Lauren isn’t content to have brought American style in terms of fashion to the rest of the world, he now wants to take America’s food.

He took out a flashy double-page spread in yesterday’s New York Times to announce his Paris invasion, or the fact he’s opening an expensive restaurant that serves cheeseburgers made with meat from his own ranch.

When Americans first invaded European business in the late 1940s, they brought their soft drinks, food and automobiles. It was the start of the consumer and marketing revolution and they used all the tools at their disposal to bring a starved continent, what it wanted.

By the late 70s, the second wave arrived in the form of fast-food and McDonald’s. The whole fast-food thing was something of a novelty to Europeans who’ve endlessly debated its merits and lack of ever since.

McDonald’s was smart enough to realize they needed to adapt and always looked to adapt to local needs. Some of these adaptions became cultural folklore (see below).

The interesting thing about Ralph Lauren’s move to Paris is that cheeseburger is front and center of the move. Nothing could be American and in the past it was an object that exemplified blue-collar food. It was the item that invaded Europe and got the French to believe their culture was being attacked and it even became the catalyst that gave birth to the slow food movement.

However, that’s all changed in a world that in the recent past has managed to find a way to add extraordinary value to the most mundane of things, by making turning low culture into high culture. In 2010, it’s now easy to find $50+ cheeseburgers in the restaurants of New York, ironically, it’s often the French chefs who attempt the dressing up.

While 20 years ago, the thought of a good American restaurant would have been unheard of, it’s now probably going to be regarded with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders. French cuisine has moved down from its elevated perch just as America has moved up.

It’s also totally consistent for Lauren who’s made millions by taking the basics of American fashion and dressing it up. The timing is probably perfect and the place will be packed.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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