The Business Biography of Ralph Lauren

21

Ralph Lauren is responsible for creating one of the most successful fashion concerns in the second half of the 20th century.

His billion-dollar empire was built on his genius for creating the “American look” – in effect holding up New York as worthy of competing with the world’s fashion capitals such as Paris.

Lauren holds the distinction of being the sole American designer to manufacture and license his creations.

Ralph Lauren – Always Quality Over Quantity

Born in the Bronx to a Jewish immigrant couple, Ralph Lauren grew up sans the concept of fashion. It could be said that his only early creative influence was his father who worked as a house painter.

Lauren went to DeWitt Clinton High School where the likes of actor Burt Lancaster and Spiderman-creator Stan Lee also studied.

The name “Lauren” came about when a brother changed his name. A few people thought the brothers were denying their Jewish heritage, but the Laurens saw the change as being crucial to their success.

The young Ralph took on an after-school job and was able to buy expensive, stylish suits. Being a stickler for quality not quantity earned him a reputation as a trendsetter among his contemporaries.

In the succeeding years, he studied at the New York City College but left after a couple of years, serving in the US Army from 1962 to 1964.

Lauren did not study fashion but entered the fashion industry as a Brooks Brothers salesman. He then developed the Polo label, initially as a necktie brand. Eventually, he bought the brand name from his backer and turned it into an empire. By the mid-1990s, Lauren’s company went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Polo Ralph Lauren look has grown to be synonymous with the American look. He has since diversified from clothes into fragrance and home furnishing lines.

The Ralph Lauren Quick Bio

Full Name: Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lifschitz)

Birthdate: October 14, 1939

Birthplace: New York

Company: Polo Ralph Lauren

Industry: Fabric & Apparel

Key success traits: Focusing on quality rather than quantity; ambition; trendsetting genius.

Additional:

Ralph Lauren’s classic car collection has garnered honors at prestigious shows and has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. While Ralph’s son David works for the family business, his other son Dylan runs the posh Manhattan candy store, Dylan’s Candy Bar.