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Ralph Lauren (born October 13, 1939) is an American fashion designer.
Ralph Lipschitz as he was born, in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish immigrants Frank and Frida Lipschitz. His father was a house painter. There are many parallels with the late Robert Denning, the interior designer. Both grew up without fashion, but went on to create for others an environment of society, old-money and the country-club style. A world that neither had any exposure to as a child, but each was able to visualize and create his dream. For Lauren this look would eventually become Polo Ralph Lauren.
From a very young age, Ralph started working after school to earn money to buy stylish, expensive suits. He preferred quality over quantity. His attire soon gave him a trendy reputation among his peers.
Ralph attended DeWitt Clinton High School, on Mosholu Parkway, in the Bronx. Others who attended this school include: Burt Lancaster, Robert Klein and Stan Lee. At age 16, Ralph and his older brother Jerry changed their last name from Lipschitz to Lauren. Some consider this a denial of their Jewish heritage; Ralph considered it necessary for success.
He went to the City College of New York where he studied Business and dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964, he served in the United States Army. After his discharge, in 1964, he married Ricky Low-Beer. He did not attend fashion school, but worked for Brooks Brothers as a salesman and for whom he created the label Polo. He purchased this name from them in 1967 and in 1968 opened his own tie business, Polo Fashions, after securing a $50,000 loan from a financial backer. Since then, Lauren's fashion empire has grown into a billion-dollar business.
In 1984 he recreated the Rhinelander Mansion, a former home of the photographer Edgar de Evia and Robert Denning, into the flagship store for Polo Ralph Lauren. Edgar would this same year photograph the Lauren home "Round Hill" in Jamaica for House & Garden.
In the mid 1990s, Polo Ralph Lauren became a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL.
Ralph Lauren has since created many other brands some of which are Purple Label for high-end formalwear and Polo Jeans Co., for younger and more casual wear. In late 2004, Lauren added the latest brand under his name called Rugby, which he targets towards college consumers. So far he has opened stores in Boston, Charlottesville, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and New York City with plans of expanding.
Ralph and his wife, Ricky, have two sons and a daughter: Andrew, David, and Dylan. David is an executive at Ralph Lauren Media.
Lauren is also well-known as a collector of classic automobiles. His cars have won best in show at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance multiple times. His collection was recently displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Learn more at the
Designer Definition (from U.S Department of Labor)