Ralph Lauren, founder of the brand Polo
Ralph Lauren is an American Fashion designer who is most famously known for Ralph Lauren clothing company and the brand Polo which today is a multi-billion enterprise.
He was born as Ralph Lifshitz in Bronx, New York City on October 14, 1939. His parents were Jewish immigrants who had fled from Belarus. He spent his early childhood days at Mosholu Parkway area of the family’s adopted borough where he attended a day school .
When Ralph turned 16, he had to give up his last name because he was constantly teased by the school children. He changed it to Lauren.
From his early days itself, Ralph was known for his peculiar fashion sense and he found inspiration from famous Hollywood stars of those days. Lauren was known by his classmates for selling ties to his fellow students. Later he attended Baruch College in Manhattan, where he studied business for two years. Before taking on a sales job at Brooks Brothers, Ralph also had a brief stint in the Army. Lauren married teacher and part-time receptionist Ricky Anne Low-Beer in New York City in 1964.
When he was 26, he was inspired to design a wide European style necktie he had seen an American film star wearing. In 1967, while working for Beau Brummell, Lauren began designing his own men’s neckties with a wider cut, branding them under the name “Polo” and selling them at large department stores, including Bloomingdale’s. In order to develop his business, he took $30,000 loan and finally entered the full line of men’s wear.Because of his appealing designs, Lauren was awarded the Coty Award for his men’s designs. After this recognition, he released a line of women’s suits tailored in a classic men’s style.In 1972, Lauren released a short-sleeve cotton shirt in 24 colors. In this design was emblazoned the company’s famed logo—that of a polo player which ultimately became the brand’s signature look.His fashion ideas have been criticized by some for not being particularly creative while also embraced by scores of consumers who prefer more approachable looks. Subsequently, Lauren expanded his brand to include a luxury clothing line known as Ralph Lauren Purple, a home-furnishing collection called Ralph Lauren Home and a set of fragrances. Polo currently produces clothing for men, women and children and has hundreds of stores in different countries, including factory stores that produce the majority of his sales domestically.Lauren also got the distinction of designing Olympic uniforms for Team USA.In the 1980s and 1990s, Polo expanded very rapidly, opening stores across the United States and abroad. Trading under the symbol RL, Polo Ralph Lauren went public on June 11, 1997, after Goldman Sachs having purchased more than a quarter of the company in the mid-’90s . As of January 2016, the success of Polo has earned Lauren a fortune estimated at more than $6 billion.
In September 2015 he stepped aside as CEO and appointed Stefan Larsson, the global president of The Gap’s Old Navy division as the new CEO. Ralph took on the role of executive chairman and chief creative officer of the company he founded.
Ralph Lauren is also famous for his philanthropic activities. He has funded a number of initiatives pertaining to cancer research and care and in 1989 co-founded Georgetown University’s Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research.