- Lauren, Ralph
- (1939- )A native New Yorker, Ralph Lauren is best known for his ability to create lifestyle-dressing. He was born Ralph Lifshitz, the son of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe. As a young child, he exhibited a sense of style. Ralph and his brother could often be found thrift-shop hunting; it was here that Ralph discovered fashion as a means of identity transformation. Lauren began his design career with his tie collection, Polo, a division of Beau Brummel Company in 1967. The line was adopted by Bloomingdale's Department Store. In 1968, Lauren and the name Polo joined forces with Norman Hilton, a suit maker. Never timid to expand, Lauren created full lines of men's and women's apparel. Possessing a keen sense of marketing, Lauren understood the power of branding early in his career and his polo player emblem is one of the most recognized logos throughout the world. Inspired by the colors of M&M candies, Lauren dyed his famous polo shirt in the same vibrant colors. Today, a visitor to his New York headquarters on Madison Avenue will find bowls of mounded M&M candies, a nostalgic reminder of the company past. In the 1970s, Lauren presented to the world through print advertisement his products as a total image in which clothes were a means of recreating oneself. In the 1980s, Lauren made retail history with the opening of his flagship Polo retail store in New York, in a historical Madison Avenue mansion, which exudes the projected lifestyle of the Polo customer.While the fashion world has not been generous in the recognition of Lauren as a creative force in the industry, he has been the recipient of numerous awards and his company went public in 1997. Lauren's name adorns successful accessories, childrenswear, eyewear, fragrances, and home products. His style for creating and marketing the "American blueblood image" is the core of his success. Lauren is also credited with grooming many notable industry successes. Joseph Ab-boud and John Varvatos are two of the many menswear designers to train with the king of lifestyle design and merchandising. His former students credit him with an exceptional business sense, as well as a clear vision for the total design process and marketing strategy.See also Brand identity; Brand image; Sportswear.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.