Ralph Lauren biographyBorn Ralph Lifshitz October 14, 1939 in New York City is
an American fashion designer and business executive, best known for his Polo Ralph Lauren clothing brand, and a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise. He has become well known for his collection of rare automobiles, some of which have been displayed in museum exhibits. As of September 2012, Forbes estimates his wealth at $6.5 billion dollars, which makes Ralph Lauren the 162nd richest person in the world.
Ralph Lauren (pronounced loren) was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, from Pinsk, Poland (now Belarus): Fraydl (née Kotlar) and Frank Lifshitz, a house painter.
Lauren attended the John Jay College Jewish Day School followed by MTA (now known as the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy), before eventually graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1957. He has said he had had heroes such as John F. Kennedy and James Stewart, hoping to acquire a "movie star" type of personality. In MTA Lauren was known by his classmates for selling ties to his fellow students. In a later interview about his early ambitions he referred to his Clinton yearbook, in which it stated under his picture that he wanted to be a millionaire.
Born Ralph Lifshitz, he changed his surname to Lauren when he was 15 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 connected to anything or anyone."
He went to Baruch College where he studied business, although 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 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 was approached by 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, however Brooks Brothers managed to retain its rights to the iconic "original polo button-down collar" shirt (still produced today), in spite of Lauren's Polo trademark. 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 line. Around that same time he released a line of women's suits that were tailored in a classic men's style, which was when the first Polo emblem was seen.
It was on the cuff of the women's suit. Ralph Lauren released Polo's famous short sleeve mesh shirt with the Polo logo in 1972 and unveiled his first Ralph Lauren collection for women. It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic.He also 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, San Francisco, Short Hills, Montreal and Troy.
Awards and honors
In 2010, Ralph Lauren was declared Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.
Ralph Lauren is also well known as a collector of automobiles, some of which are extremely rare. A large portion of his over 70 automobiles are held in his estate in Katonah, New York. He owns a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, two Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas, three 1996 McLaren F1s (one of them an ultra-rare F1 LM), a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, a 1929 Blower Bentley, one Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, a Porsche 997 GT3 RS, a Bugatti Veyron, a 1930 Mercedes-Benz CountTrossi SSK (aka "The Black Prince") a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia., a Lamborghini Reventón and the rare Reventón Roadster. His cars have won "best in show" at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance multiple times. In 2005 his collection was displayed at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. In 2011 17 prime members of his collection were exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.
Ralph Lauren is Married to Ricky Anne loew Beer since 1964, they have three children.
Brands Today Include: