Ralph Lauren: Life Story of Legendary Fashion Billionaire
Ralph Lauren is one of the most legendary names in fashion. Even people who are not into fashion know the name. Those who have never heard the legend of this fashion icon are missing out. His tale is an extraordinary one. Keep reading to learn all about the life of one of the most famous fashion designers in history.
One of the Richest People on the Planet Comes from Humble Roots
Lauren is the 83rd richest person on the planet with a net worth of more than $6 billion. He was born in New York City October 14, 1939. Ralph Lifshitz, which was the name on Lauren’s birth certificate, was the third of four children born to Jewish immigrants who fled Belarus to escape the wrath of Hitler.
Lauren was into fashion from an early age. When he was a teenager, he dressed in the most fashionable attire he could find. He took his inspiration from screen icons of the day like Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. When Lauren was 16 years old, he and his brother Jerry changed their last name to Lauren after enduring lots of teasing about their name at school.
When he graduated from high school, Lauren studied business for two years at Baruch College in Manhattan. He dropped out after two years to enlist in the US Army, where he spent another two years before making the move to the fashion industry.
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His fashion career started when Lauren was hired by Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant. He stayed there briefly before he moved on to sell ties for Beau Brummell. In 1967, while still working for Beau Brummell, Lauren began at the age of 26 to design his own neckties. At the time, the skinny tie was all the rage, but Lauren sold wider, European-style ties with the now famous “Polo” name. The ties sold well, and a fashion empire was launched.
The Signature Item
It was 1972 when Lauren released his first line of Polo shirts. They came in 24 colors and had the now-iconic polo player label over the left breast. The polo shirt originally was worn by polo players in Argentina as a way to battle the heat during matches. It was in 1933 that French tennis star and designer René Lacoste began selling his famous polo shirts with the crocodile label, and they were being sold in the US by the 1950s. Lauren took the polo shirt and made it the Polo shirt, wrapping his version so tightly up with the public’s perception that it became the name-brand.
The entire male cast of “The Great Gatsby” wore Polo clothes from Lauren’s line of 20s-inspired clothing. Lauren designed the pink suit that Robert Redford wore in his portrayal of Gatsby. Lauren also designed the clothing worn by Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in “Annie Hall.”
The first Ralph Lauren flagship store was launched in 1986. It was placed in the Rhinelander Mansion on Madison Avenue to represent the label’s opulence. Just over a decade later, Ralph Lauren Corporation became a publicly-traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Lauren ran the company up to a multi-billion-dollar enterprise before stepping down as CEO in 2015.
Lauren’s story is truly remarkable. From the son of immigrants to the most famous man in fashion, Lauren’s journey to the top is one of the great American success stories. Although he is now no longer running the company, it will likely continue to thrive long after his death. Ralph Lauren is one of the most recognizable names in the world.