Ralph Lauren: The Man Behind the Brand

Ralph Lauren is an American fashion designer who has built a global empire on the back of his eponymous brand. He is best known for his Polo Ralph Lauren clothing line, which has become synonymous with preppy, Ivy League style. However, Ralph Lauren’s brand is much more than just clothing – it encompasses a wide range of products, from home furnishings and fragrances to accessories and even automobiles. In this article, we will take a closer look at the life and career of Ralph Lauren, and explore the history and evolution of the Ralph Lauren brand.

Early Life and Career

Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York, in 1939. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Belarus, and his father worked as a house painter. Ralph was the youngest of four children and grew up in a working-class neighborhood. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and later Baruch College, but dropped out after two years to join the Army. After his discharge, he returned to New York and started working as a salesman for a tie company.

In 1967, Ralph Lauren started his own business, selling ties under the name Polo. He began by selling ties to small department stores in New York, but quickly expanded to larger retailers such as Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 1968, Ralph Lauren introduced a line of men’s clothing, and in 1971, he debuted his first women’s collection. The following year, he opened his first Ralph Lauren store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

The Ralph Lauren Brand

The Ralph Lauren brand is known for its preppy, Ivy League-inspired clothing, but it has also expanded to include a wide range of other products. The brand’s product lines include clothing, accessories, home furnishings, and fragrances. Ralph Lauren has also delved into the automotive industry by designing a limited-edition car for Bugatti, the Bugatti Type 35. Ralph Lauren’s clothing lines are divided into five main categories: Ralph Lauren Collection, Purple Label, Black Label, Lauren Ralph Lauren, and Polo Ralph Lauren.

The Ralph Lauren Home Collection is known for its elegant, timeless style, and includes bedding, bath linens, furniture, lighting, and accessories. The Ralph Lauren Home Collection has been a great success and is sold in department stores and Ralph Lauren Home Stores worldwide. Ralph Lauren also has a line of fragrances, including Polo, Ralph Lauren Romance, and Ralph Lauren Blue.


Ralph Lauren is also known for his philanthropy, particularly in the areas of education and cancer research. In 2000, he and his wife, Ricky, founded the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem, New York. The center provides cancer screening, diagnostic services, and support to underserved communities. The Lauren family also established the Ralph Lauren Cancer Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

In addition to cancer research, Ralph Lauren has also made significant charitable contributions to education. In 2010, he and his wife donated $13 million to the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention and $10 million to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

In conclusion, Ralph Lauren’s impact on the fashion industry is undeniable. He has not only created a global brand, but he has also set a new standard for American fashion. His iconic designs, attention to detail, and dedication to quality have made him one of the most respected designers in the world. His influence can be seen in the countless imitations of his designs and in the continued popularity of his brand. Ralph Lauren’s legacy will continue to be felt for many years to come.


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  2. https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/people/ralph-lauren
  3. https://www.vogue.com/article/ralph-lauren-50-years-of-fashion
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  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/fashion/ralph-lauren-retirement.html