Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2004 (Revised March 2005)

Oscar de la Renta

by Bharat N. Anand, Elizabeth Lea Carpenter and Samhita Patwardhan Jayanti

Abstract

Over three decades, Oscar de la Renta (ODLR) had established itself as one of the premier luxury brands in America. Its mainstay business had always been producing and marketing high-priced, couture/ready-to-wear luxury goods. Now, in September 2003, it faced a series of critical strategic decisions. First, how should it grow the business while preserving its luxury brand? Should it diversify into the moderately priced segment of apparel and unserved customer segments like the Hispanic market, where it had a strong brand appeal but negligible presence? Second, as a family-owned company, how could it effectively compete against increasingly larger, publicly financed, luxury goods conglomerates? And, how might de la Renta, the company's founder and chief designer since inception and now 71 years old, effectively prepare the company for the future? Describes the company's business and highlights these key tensions: expanding the scope of a luxury brand, pursuing licensing or organic growth strategies, and competing against publicly owned conglomerates. Includes color exhibits.

Keywords: Business Conglomerates; Borrowing and Debt; Growth and Development Strategy; Brands and Branding; Production; Family Ownership; Luxury; Competition; Diversification; Expansion; United States;

Citation:

Anand, Bharat N., Elizabeth Lea Carpenter, and Samhita Patwardhan Jayanti. "Oscar de la Renta." Harvard Business School Case 704-490, March 2004. (Revised March 2005.)