Who Is Ralph Lauren?

By Richard Magda
October 18, 2001

Jill C. Hindman

Whether it is fine collection paint, or the fragrance of old money you are after, Ralph Lauren is your man. After all, his innovations some 30 years ago led the fashion path to “lifestyle merchandising” and paved the way for imitators like Tommy Hilfiger.

Lauren’s luxuriant advertising and widespread images that portray a rugged romance and elegance all present the seamless front of a wealthy, adventurous lifestyle.

“The first image-maker,” according to New York magazine, Lauren is one of the fashion industry’s most influential players. Born Ralph Lipschitz in 1939, he changed his name to Ralph Lauren, which was the name of his first tie shop.

He began his career by creating neckties under the name Polo. In 1968, he created a men’s wear line under the Polo name. With no formal design training, Lauren continued to design ties using the Polo label to suit the needs of the identity-craving male of the late 1960s.

In the 60s, “A tie was the way a man expressed himself,” Lauren said in his company’s website. “I believed that men were ready for something new and different. They didn’t want to look like they worked for IBM. A beautiful tie was an expression of quality, taste and style.”

Since his breakthrough, Lauren’s allure has endured the test of time and public perception. His designs, from jeans to collection pieces, are known for their nonconforming All-American, timeless sportswear styles. Designed for people more concerned with a lifestyle than fashion, Lauren’s products have gone without undergoing drastic evolution and are still dominating the ever-changing trends of today’s society.

“What began as a tie 33 years ago has grown into an entire world that has redefined how American style and quality is perceived,” according to the Polo.com website. “Polo has always been about selling quality products by creating worlds and inviting our customers to be part of our dream.”

At the age of 62, Lauren is still providing leadership in the design, marketing, advertising and operational aspects of the style business. For 33 years, he has been atop the list of style doctors and is still holding that position with a fierce grip.

“I’ve lived through the frenzies of over 100 designers,” Lauren said. “Some make it, some don’t. What I admire is consistency; a builder. Certain names don’t disappear,”

With his moniker reputably stamped on clothes, shoes, cologne and perfume, paint cans and towels, the name Ralph Lauren has become a permanent fixture among style-engrossed consumers.

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Richard Magda

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