Ralph Lauren is an 80-year-old American Fashion Designer, Business Executive and Philanthropist most famous for his global multi-billion-dollar enterprise, “Ralph Lauren Corporation” (especially his sportswear line) and his very rare exotic collection of automobiles. His estimated net worth is $6.3 billion.
Early Life & Childhood
Ralph Lauren was born as Ralph Reuben Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York on the 14th of October 1939 to an Ashkenazi Jewish parent, Frieda Cutler, and Frank Lifshitz from Pinsk, Belarus.
When he was still in school, he would sell neck-ties to his classmates. He changed his last name at the age of sixteen from Lifshitz to Lauren because his mates made fun of his last name by calling him “Shit”.
He attended day school followed by the Manhattan Talmudical Academy (MTA) before eventually graduating from Dewitt Clinton High School in 1957. He also attended Baruch’s College where he studied business but dropped out after 2 years.
From 1962 to 1964, he briefly served in the United States Army, following which he worked with the Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant.
In 1967, Ralph Lauren worked as a sales representative under a tie manufacturer named Beau Brummell who dealt in men ties. He left the company and began designing his own men’s neckties with a wider cut, branding them under the name “Polo” owing to his interest in sports and selling them at large department stores, including Bloomingdale’s.
The company name, “Polo” was chosen to depict a unique lifestyle. “Well, what kind of people play polo?” he asks. “The Wealthy, Cosmopolitan and Chic”. He wanted to create a concept for the name. He obtained the right to use the emblem ‘Polo’ from Brooks Brothers.
He got his first hit sales from Neiman Marcus who bought 100 dozen of his ties. This launched him into the world of fashion. That same year, he got a $50,000 loan from a clothing manufacturer, Norman Hilton with which he opened a necktie store under his label “Polo”.
Ralph Lauren Corporation launched the first Ralph Lauren collection for women in 1971 and released his trademark short-sleeve shirt with the Polo logo in 1972. He gained even more recognition after he designed a whole clothing line for the movies, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Annie Hall’.
Ralph Lauren opened his first flagship store, “Polo Ralph Lauren” by converting the Rhinelander Mansion into his store on Madison Avenue and 72nd Street, New York in 1986. He launched a Polo Sport Collection in 1992.
He also launched the Ralph Lauren Purple Label in 1995. He also launched the Lauren Ralph Lauren in 1996. His company became a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange on the 12th of June, 1997.
He opened a 98 seater Restaurant, “RL” in Chicago in March 1999. He also opened another restaurant, “Ralph’s” at Boulevard Saint Germain Paris flagship store in 2010 and another, “The Polo Bar” at Polo’s flagship store in New York in 2015.
In 2000, Ralph Lauren signed a revolutionary 30-year deal with NBC associates to sell his fashionable ‘lifestyle’ on social media, in print, and on television which led to the launch of its official website, ‘polo.com” by RL Media.
Ralph Lauren Corporation acquired the NBC share of RL Media and relaunched its website as “ralphlauren.com” in 2007. The company launched an exclusive brand for JCPenney named “American Living” in 2008.
Ralph Lauren had established over 35 boutiques in 23 locations around the United States by 2007.
In September 2015, Ralph Lauren stepped down as CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation but remains the Chief Creative Officer and Executive Chairman.
On the 8th of September 2018, he celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his brand in a fashion show at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park.
He got married to Ricky Ann Low-Beer on the 20th of December, 1964 in New York. They have 3 children Andrew Lauren (born: 1969), David Lauren (born: 1971), and Dylan Lauren (born: 1974).
Andrew Lauren is a Film Producer and Actor. David Lauren is the Executive Vice President of Global Advertising, Marketing, and Communications at his father’s company, “Ralph Lauren Corporation”. Dylan Lauren owns a candy store, Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York.
Ralph Lauren co-founded the “Nina Hyde Breast Cancer Research Center” at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D. C. in 1989.
He served as the Chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) charitable initiative, “Fashion Targets Breast Cancer”, a name created by him. He also designed its symbol. The initiative aimed to increase public awareness of Breast Cancer and to raise funds internationally for the management of breast cancer patients.
Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation introduced the “American Heroes Fund” that provided subsidies to children whose parents perished in the September 11 attacks.
He established the “Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention” in collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering and North General Hospital in Harlem, New York City in 2003.
In 2014, Ralph Lauren Corporation collaborated with the Royal Marsden in Europe to build a world-class breast cancer research facility, “Royal Marsden Ralph Lauren Center for Breast Cancer Research” which was finally launched in 2016.
Achievements & Awards
- Coty Award for Menswear (1970 and 1973)
- Coty Award for Womenswear (1974 and 1976)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) American Fashion Award (1975)
- Coty Hall of Fame for Menswear (1976)
- Coty Hall of Fame award for womenswear (1977)
- Menswear Association of America’s Designer Achievement Award (1985)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) “Retailer of the Year” Award (1987)
- The American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award for fashion and design (1989)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) Geoffrey Beene’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1992)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) Womenswear Designer of the Year Award (1995)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) Menswear Designer of the Year Award (1996)
- Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research’s first Humanitarian Award (1996)
- CFDA’s Award for Humanitarian Leadership in recognition of his commitment to fighting breast cancer (1997)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) American Fashion Legend Award (2007)
- Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA’s) “Popular Vote Award” (2009)
Ralph Lauren was declared the Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.
He was appointed an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for which he received the award from Prince Charles at the Buckingham Place on the 20th of June, 2019.
Forbes magazine listed him as the 162nd richest person in the world.
His estimated net worth is $6.3 billion (2019)
He is also famous for his extremely rare exotic collection of automobiles like
- 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (1)
- Ferrari TR (2)
- 1996 McLaren F1 (3)
- Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (1)
- 1929 Blower Bentley (1)
- 1938 Buggati Type 57SC Atlantic (1)
- 1937 Buggati 57SC Gangloff (1)
- Porsche 911 GT3 RS (1)
- Buggati Veyron (1)
- 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK “Count Trossi” roadster (1)
- 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia (1)
- Lamborghini Reventon Roadster (1)
In 1990, his Buggati Type 57SC Atlantic 1938 model won “Best in Show” at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
In 1993, his Mercedes-Benz SSK “Count Trossi” 1930 model (a.k.a. “Black Prince”) also won “Best in Show” at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
His automobile collection was displayed at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art in 2005.
Ralph Lauren’s now $350 million automobile collection took the center stage at the 2017 New York’s Fashion Week.
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