Inside a paint store on Boston's upscale Newbury Street, a display of glossy brochures and rainbow-hued paint chips introduces customers to the latest in snob-appeal: the Ralph Lauren Paint Col-lection. Launched with ads in slick magazines, the line features nearly 200 colors in five "lifestyle" categories.
Move over, Benjamin Moore. Make room for designer paints. Lauren has even thoughtfully provided a collection of "custom-designed" paintbrushes with "specially blended bristles, stainless-steel ferrules and sculpted wooden handles." After all, what self-respecting status seeker wants to use just any old brush to apply such a classy product?Designer semi-gloss is probably an idea whose time has come. As celebrities and athletes diversify their business ventures, they update a time-worn phrase: You can never be too rich or too thin - or have too many products.
Think of Sophia Loren in years past, putting her name on eyeglass frames. And think of TV host Kathie Lee Gifford, whose signature line of clothing reportedly grosses $200 million a year at Wal-Mart.
Think of designer trowels and other garden implements fashioned in the best Martha Stewart tradition. For Martha wannabe hostesses, she offers beeswax candles and heirloom-quality cookie cutters.
If Ralph Lauren's paint succeeds, is it only a matter of time until Armani markets wallpaper - its designs tailored and understated, its price just $800 a roll?
If Ralph Lauren can sell paint, why can't Benjamin Moore sell clothing?