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Ralph Lauren - Biography

The American fashion designer founded his eponymous label in 1967

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19:  Designer Ralph Lauren attends the Ralph Lauren fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 at Skylight Clarkson SQ. on February 19, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fas
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Who is Ralph Lauren?

Ralph Lauren (née Ralph Lifshitz) is an American fashion designer, philanthropist, and billionaire businessman. He was born on October 14, 1939 and grew up in a middle-class Jewish household.

Ralph Lauren's Career

Possessed with an innate fashion sense from birth, he took part time jobs early on to fund his penchant for designer clothes. He chose to study business, although he left the course at City College in Manhattan before finishing his degree. 

Unhappy with the design of men's clothing at the time, Ralph designed his own, despite his lack of formal training, and had them custom made.

After a stint in the army, he was given an opportunity to prove himself when he convinced New York City clothier Beau Brummel to invest in his wide tie venture, under the 'Ralph Lauren Corporation' in 1967. The following year Brummel's company allowed him to start his own line, which he named 'Polo'.

The company name was always intended to be evocative of a lifestyle. "Well, what kind of people play polo?" he asks. "Wealthy, cosmopolitan, chic, wealthy. I wanted to create a concept for the name."  He was asked to design the wardrobe for the 1974 film version of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. 

The first Ralph Lauren fragrances were launched in 1978 at Bloomingdales - the first time a designer had ever introduced a mens and women's fragrance at the same time.

His first flagship store opened in 1986,  then his Polo Sport line was introduced in 1992, followed by other lines including Ralph Lauren Purple Label in 1995 and Lauren Ralph Lauren in 1996. The firm went public in 1997.

While fashion trends come and go, Ralph has remained true to his original concept: selling not just preppy clothes but a lifestyle. It's earned him a personal fortune close to $1 billion and a place in fashion history.

 In September 2015, Ralph stepped down as CEO of the company, but remains executive chairman and chief creative officer

Ralph Lauren's Personal Life

Shortly after leaving the military in 1964, Ralph married Ricky Low Beer. The couple have three children Andrew, Dylan and David. Only David, (who is married to former US president George W Bush's niece Lauren Bush), is involved in the family business. He is the senior vice president at Polo Ralph Lauren, whilst his brother and sister have pursued their own interests. Andrew Lauren is a singer and actor and Dylan Lauren owns the famous Dylan's candy bar, in New York.

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