Ralph Lauren – A Short Biography of a Famous American Fashion Designer

Ralph Lauren is known is being the most famous and successful American clothing designer. Ralph Lauren was actually born Ralph Lifshitz in 1939 in the Bronx, New York in a working class neighborhood. He was the youngest of four brothers. His father was a house painter. Lifshitz became interested in fashion in the 7th grade. At the young age of 12 he was one of the best dressed boys in his school, spending most of the money he earned at part-time jobs on expensive clothes. When he attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York he worked in department stores in New York. After going into the army following high school in 1962-1964 Lauren continued to work in department stores such as Brooks Brothers selling ties and studied business at night. In mid-1950s Ralph Lifshitz changed his last name and became Ralph Lauren.

In 1967 while working at A. Rivetz & Co Ralph Lauren started to design his own ties. While never receiving formal education to be a fashion designer, Lauren had always had an excellent eye for fashion since childhood. What he did during this time was considered outrageous: While the style of that era had been for thin black ties, Lauren designed a wide tie with flashy and bright colors. A year later with a $50,000 loan Ralph Lauren launched his own product line for menswear called Polo Fashion. He picked this name with his older brother as it symbolized prestige and high class. Polo clothing combined the English preppy-look with American strength.

In the years that followed Ralph Lauren went on to design clothing lines for women and children. In 1971 Lauren set up his first store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. A retailing genius, Lauren expanded to 116 Polo Ralph Lauren stores in the United States, stores in London, Paris and Shanghai, and 1,600 department store boutiques. By the 1980s Lauren opened 62 factory outlets in the United States selling damaged and previous-season clothing at discounts. In 1986 Lauren converted the Rhinelander Mansion in New York to a mega-boutique. It was called the “Best boutique in America, and probably the world” by John Fairchild of Women’s Wear Daily. By the 1990s, Lauren had designed product lines for men’s and women’s scents, cosmetics, and home decoration, including bedding, towels, furniture, curtains, carpets and kitchenware. In 1997 Ralph Lauren became the best-selling fashion designer in the world with customer spending over $5 billion.

Currently having homes on Fifth Avenue Manhattan and in Colorado and Jamaica and owning a ’29 Bentley, a ’37 Alfa Romeo, ’38 Bugatti ’62 Ferrari, Ralph Lauren has lived the life of high-class, adventure and prestige that he portrays in his clothing lines. Lauren’s global success has largely been thanks to his natural gift for fashion design, understanding and setting trends, creativity and his exceptional eye for elegance, style and detail, which he shares with the world through his famous Polo Ralph Lauren product lines.

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