Ralph Lauren has dropped a devastating bombshell on the fashion industry as he announces that he will be stepping down from his role as CEO from his eponymous brand.

The 75-year-old designer, who is the epitome of the American Dream, is to step down after 50 years at the helm of the fashion company he founded.

Ralph Lauren will pass the chief executive baton on to Stefan Larsson, who is currently the president of the Gap-owned budget chain, Old Navy – something that has caused a stir among fashion circles as many expected Ralph’s middle son David Lauren to get the promotion.

Ralph Lauren steps down as CEO of Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren steps down as CEO of Ralph Lauren

David Lauren, who is married to Lauren Bush, has worked at Ralph Lauren Corp. since 2000 as the Executive Vice President, Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communications. He is responsible for the global advertising and marketing campaigns for the company. It is believed he will remain in this role after his father steps down.

Related story: The real Ralph Lauren story 

Ralph Lauren is renowned for being hands on and passionate about his brand, which expanded from Polo Ralph Lauren to include Baby Ralph Lauren and Ralph Lauren Home. He has also ensured the brand has been involved in many philanthropic initiatives, which is why it will please many to hear that while he is stepping down he will remain the executive chairman and creative chief.

1977 Ralph Lauren poses with women wearing his creations.

Ralph Lauren back in 1977. the women are wearin his creations

“My job is to think always about the future of our company and how to move it forward,” he said. “We have had tremendous success expanding the Ralph Lauren brands around the world and creating a great management team. Now, all the pieces are in place to position our business for continued growth.”

Ralph Lauren Corporation hopes that Larsson will help the company through its tumultuous period. According to FT.com the retailer has reported a sales decline for three consecutive quarters. Meanwhile Larsson has helped Old Navy’s fortunes, accounting for US$6.6bn of the group’s US$16.4bn in revenues in its latest fiscal year.

It seems Larsson is destined for instant success with the announcement of his appointment causing Ralph Lauren’s shares to rise five per cent in post-trading hours.

dolce gabbana anna wintour

Ralph Lauren with close friend Anna Wintour


Images: Corbis, Getty