Business of fashion

On food, fashion and a taste of Ralph Lauren



Ralph Lauren cafe London
Aaaaad finally, finally, the Ralph Lauren cafe is opening on Regent Street. A destination inside the new Ralph Lauren Polo store, it will serve coffee, cocktails, wine and snacks, plus breakfast, salads and sandwiches.

I can’t explain my obsession with fashion eateries but certain brands just lend themselves so well to food. For example, why hasn’t Anthropologie done a cafe? Imagine how many more of its painterly plates and cups it would sell if you had just eaten a splendid tea off them?

I happen to know that the Crown Estate (landlords to most of Regent Street) are very very tricky about mixing restaurants and fashion retail. I imagine they want to strike the right balance and god knows there are plenty of restaurants and coffee chains in the area. For a long time Burberry was not allowed to promote Thomas’s Cafe (although I noticed last week it has a new frontage that very clearly shows the cafe that was hitherto rather hidden), while Jigsaw was not allowed to include a cafe in its recently opened St. James’s Emporium store further up the road in the new St James’s Market.

I’m secretly a little miffed that Ralph’s Coffee & Bar is so prominent, it even has its own entrance from the street. I had rather hoped it might be tucked out of sight on an upper floor, so I could have it all to myself, free of tourists and kids parents. But no, the point of these places is to see and be seen. And invite some much needed footfall.

“Global tourists are coming there and you want to be a part of that energy,” said David Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s vice chairman and chief innovation officer. “You need to step it up and stand out and create something that feels distinctive and special. I think when people walk down Regent Street they’ll stop at Polo and think it’s unusual — and beautiful.” So expect to see me in there seven days a week — morning, noon and night.

Ralph’s Coffee & Bar is open at 173 Regent Street, London W1B 4JQ 10am-8pm Monday to Saturday and noon to 6pm on Sundays (from Thursday 12th January).

WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
IMAGE: WWD
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