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The store of the future won’t have any merchandise at all

Some day in the future, Ralph Lauren stores may not have any merchandise in them. At least that’s what chief innovation officer David Lauren envisions. Instead, you’ll chat with an in-store expert about the outfit of your dreams—a teal polo or a red linen summer dress, perhaps—and the brand will make it for you on demand.

Lauren has always been interested in how technology could transform the fashion industry. As the son of the brand’s namesake founder, he joined the family business in 2000 and crafted a role for himself as its first head of innovation. He’s helped usher the classic American brand into the 21st century through projects like interactive screens in stores in 2007 and a shoppable virtual fashion show in 2009.

Now, Lauren’s goal is to let customers create the product of their dreams from scratch, a reality he believes is only a few years away. Ralph Lauren is currently piloting “Create Your Own” garments online. Over the holidays, customers were able to design their own outerwear, mixing and matching hundreds of colors option to create down vests and jackets. And last month, Ralph Lauren unveiled the custom polo, which lets customers design their own version of the brand’s most iconic product.

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