Ralph Lauren, an American fashion designer, philanthropist, and business executive, best known for POLO Ralph Lauren, which is a clothing company Corporation, a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise.
Born in Ralph Lifshitz October 14, 1939, he changed his surname to Lauren when he was 16 years old.“My given name has the word ‘shit’ in it,” he told Oprah Winfrey. “When I was a kid, the other kids would make a lot of fun of me. It was a tough name. That’s why I decided to change it. Then people said, “Did you change your name because you don’t want to be Jewish?” I said, “Absolutely not. That’s not what it’s about. My cousins who lived in California had changed their last name to Lawrence. So I just thought, “I’m going to pick a nice last name”—it wasn’t particularly related to anything or anyone.”
He went to Baruch College where he studied business, but he dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the United States Army and left to work briefly for Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant before leaving to become a salesman for a tie company. In 1966, when he was 26, he was inspired to design a wide, European-style necktie he had seen Douglas Fairbanks Jr wearing, but the idea was rejected by the company he worked for as not being commercially viable. He left to establish his own company working out of a drawer in the Empire State Building, taking rags and turning them into ties. He sold the ties to small shops in New York, with a major turning point when he approached Neiman Marcus, who bought 100 dozen.
In 1967, with the financial backing of Manhattan clothing manufacturer Norman Hilton, Lauren opened a necktie store where he also sold ties of his own design, under the label “Polo.” He later received the rights to use the trademark Polo from Brooks Brothers. In 1971, he expanded his line and opened a Polo boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
In 1970, Ralph Lauren won the COTY Award for his menswear edition. In 1972, Ralph Lauren released Polo’s famous short sleeve pique shirt with the Polo logo and unveiled his first Ralph Lauren collection for women.It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic. lso gained recognition for his design after he was contracted to provide clothing styles for the movie The Great Gatsby as well as for Diane Keaton’s title character in the 1977 film, Annie Hall.
In 1984, he transformed the Rhinelander Mansion, former home of the photographer Edgar de Evia and Robert Denning, into the flagship store for Polo Ralph Lauren. This same year de Evia photographed the cover feature story for House & Garden on the Lauren home Round Hill in Jamaica, which had formerly been the home of Babe and Bill Paley.
On June 11, 1997, Ralph Lauren Corporation became a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL.
By 2007 Ralph Lauren had over 35 boutiques in the United States; 23 locations carried the Ralph Lauren Purple Label, including Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Boston, Charlotte, Washington DC, Chicago, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Manhasset, New York, Palm Beach, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Short Hills, Montreal and Troy. The Financial Times reported in January 2010 that the firm had revenues of $5 billion for fiscal year 2009.
In 2010, Lauren was declared Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. As of September 2012, Forbes estimates his wealth at $7 billion dollars, which makes Ralph Lauren the 191st richest person in the world. In 2014, Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal.