20 Facts About Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren

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The name Ralph Lauren is synonymous with preppy, classic style and a country-club appearance. He is one of the most famous designers in the world, working to create a line that’s casual and upscale. He took a classic polo shirt, added a horse and stuck a $60 price tag on it so many years ago and managed to create a brand that’s become one of the most iconic in the world. Ralph Lauren is a true legend in the fashion industry, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Here are 20 things you did not know about the famed designer.

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He Did Not Invent the Polo

His name is synonymous with polo, but he’s not the inventor of the polo. The polo was actually invented by another famous brand (you’ve heard of Lacoste) and it was something that Lauren decided to change up a bit. Rene Lacoste was a famous tennis player in the 1920s and he felt that the shirts they were required to wear were too cumbersome, so he designed the polo. Lauren simply decided to use the design, add his own label and make millions off of something someone else invented.

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He was Not Born Ralph Lauren

When Ralph Lauren was born in 1939, he was named Ralph Rueben Lifschitz. He was born in the South Bronx, and most people don’t even realize that Ralph Lauren is not his name or that he was even born in New York. Many people think he was born elsewhere, but he was not born into a wealthy family. What most people don’t know is that he wasn’t born Ralph Lauren, and when they find out they assume he changed his name on his own, but that’s not true either.

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His Brother Changed Their Name

What’s strange about the fact that Ralph’s last name was changed to Lauren is the fact that he is not the one responsible for changing their name when he decided to become a designer. When he was 16, his brother Jerry decided that the family needed to change their last name and did so to Lauren. Their other brother Lenny decided he was not going to change his name for many years. He retained the last name Lifschitz for many years before deciding to change it to match his brothers.

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He’s Powerful

Back in 1999, Ralph Lauren shut down the production of an entire magazine because the magazine called itself Polo. The magazine was a subsidiary of the U.S. Polo Association and it was something that Lauren did not think was appropriate. He filed suit against the company and the magazine and the court shut it down. However, it 2001 the ruling was reversed and the magazine was allowed to continue production. However, they did have to include a disclaimer in every issue that states they are in no way affiliated with Polo Ralph Lauren.

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He Launched His Woman’s Line in California

The New York-native decided to launch a line of women’s wear in California in 1971. He made the decision to classify women’s clothing in four categories; classic, country, active and collection. They each had the signature tailoring that made the clothes fit just right and they each had a feminine twist that made them appealing to women everywhere. The line was vastly successful, and he remains one of the most famous designers for both men and women in the world.

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He’s an Army Vet

It’s not often you hear about the most famous designers in the world serving in the army, but Lauren did. He was a U.S. Army Reservist for two years following his college education. He even used his time in the military as influence for his collections when he decided to become a designer. He remembers that his uniformed officers were very impressive and he used that memory to help him create a line of strong menswear that inspires confidence and power. It’s something that’s served him well over the course of his long and successful career in the fashion industry.

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He Owns Club Monaco

In 1999, Ralph Lauren decided his corporation would purchase another famous designer line called Club Monaco. He did just that for a purchase price of $52.5 million. He’s since turned the famous brand into one that’s even more famous and popular than ever before. The hugely successful line is known for its preppy pieces and its upscale appeal. It’s sold all over the world, and it’s a line that people love when it comes to finding casual wear for the weekend, vacation and for the golf course.

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The Polo Came in 24 Colors

If you’ve been in a Ralph Lauren section at any major department store lately, you know that there is what feels like a million colors in his polo collection. When he introduced the polo in 1972, he offered it in 24 colors. If you are a man with a love of Ralph Lauren, you have his polos in all of those colors, plus the additional colors that have become popular over the past several decades. It’s impossible not to find a polo in just about every color and every shade of every color imaginable. It’s hard to believe there were only 24 colors available initially.

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Ralph Lauren Collects Cars

He’s got a car collection that will make any car lover green with envy. Lauren’s collection includes some of the most prolific designs of all time, including a few one-of-a-kind vehicles you will not find in any other collection. He has a 1938 Bugatti 57 S(C) Atlantic that was built by hand by the maker of the brand. There are only four of them in the world, and Lauren has one in his hugely extensive and impressive collection of vehicles. It’s one that rivals anyone’s in the world in terms of luxury and size.

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He Worked for Brooks Brothers

If there is another line that’s just as preppy and classic as his own, it’s Brooks Brothers. Lauren got his start in the fashion industry as a salesperson at the Brooks Brothers on Madison Avenue. He was 24 when he got the job. His time at the store gave him some experience in fashion so that he could learn what was stylish, what people wanted and how to dress a man to his own standards. The experience was vital to the successful nature of his career as a designer.

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The Brand Almost Went Bankrupt

When the line of polos launched in 1972, the designer almost had to declare bankruptcy. He’d taken on a $50,000 loan from Norman Hilton a few months before, he’d invested nearly $100,000 of his own money into the line and he was the 90 percent owner of the company while a man by the name of Peter Strom was a 10 percent owner. The line was successful, but no one was managing the finances of the company very well and it wasn’t a good outlook. Fortunately, Lauren was able to hold onto this line and fix his financial situation.

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The RRL Collection is Special

The name RRL comes from the Double RL Ranch in Telluride, Colorado, which is where the Lauren’s have a home of their own. Lauren’s wife’s name is Ricky, and that’s where the RRL comes from. The line with this name was inspired by the type of clothing that Ralph Lauren likes to wear when he’s on his ranch in Colorado, and that’s why it’s an earthy, preppy, a bit more down-to-earth collection than the things he normally has is in his everyday collection. It’s a great line with great inspiration.

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Ralph Lauren’s Daughter is the Owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar

This is something most people just don’t know. Ralph Lauren and his wife have a daughter named Dylan, and she was inspired by Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory so much so that she created her own line of candy shops. Her shop was first opened in New York City in 2001 and she’s been successful enough to open several more locations across the country since she went public more than a decade ago. She cultivated her love of candy and art when she was at Duke University and has been successful in her work ever since.

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He Sold his Own Ties

Not only did Ralph Lauren begin designing by making ties out of old rags, he would sell them on his own. He first began going door-to-door at stores and shops in New York City to try and sell his ties, and he eventually sold them right out of his bag at the base of the Empire State Building. Believe it or not, his ties were a huge hit. He made them wider and more stately than other ties that were popular at the time, and men loved them. It was his first success in the fashion industry.

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He Received His First Investment in 1968

When he was 29-years-old, he was given a $50,000 loan from a man by the name of Normal Hilton, who was a firm believer that Lauren would make a wonderful designer. He gave Lauren the money to start his own collection and start his brand. It was a sound investment, as Lauren would go onto become one of the most successful designers in the world. He even bought the name Polo from Hilton, and it’s become his own sort of iconic introduction to the fashion industry over the years.

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He’s Employed Great Designers

When you are one of the greatest fashion designers of all time, you are certainly going to see a lot of famous designers come into your employ at sometime. Most all designers have to get their start somewhere, and many have done so with Ralph Lauren. For example, Simon Spurr, Frank Muytjens, and Michael Bastian have all worked for Ralph Lauren. He even employed Thom Browne, who was at one time a create director for Club Monaco, another very preppy line of clothing that inspires both men and women.

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Bloomingdales Made Strange Requests

When Lauren was just getting started in the business, he talked to someone at Bloomingdales who asked him to do some very strange things. They asked the designer to take his name off the label of his ties and replace them with their own label, which was Sutton Place. They also wanted the designer to remake the ties so that they would be a quarter inch slimmer. When Lauren declined on both accounts, Bloomingdales would not sell his ties. They called him six months later and bought a ton of his ties to sell – Lauren’s way – in their stores.

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His Home Is Famous

When True Grit was filmed in 1969, part of the home that Ralph Lauren lives in with his wife in Telluride, was used in the film in many different scenes. The Double RL Ranch was named after Lauren and his wife of more than 46 years. The film was shot here long before Lauren owned the home, but it still goes down in history as one of the coolest houses in the world. It would have to go down in history for this considering one of the most famous John Wayne movies of all time was filmed here.

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Why He Chose the Name Polo

Ralph Lauren is not a polo player, yet he chose this to be the name of his massive brand. He once told Oprah Winfrey that he loves sports and wanted the line to have an athletic appeal, but that he certainly couldn’t call the line “Basketball Ralph Lauren,” so he chose the must more appropriate “Polo Ralph Lauren,” and went from there. He feels that it’s an international sport that’s a bit sophisticated and loved by many, so he picked it to be the name of his famous company.

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He Wanted to Go a Different Route as an Adult

Ralph Lauren did not always want to become a fashion designer. In fact, his first and most prominent career choice was vastly different from the career that’s made him famous. He wanted to be Batman. If Lauren could have found a way to become Batman in real life, he would have. He’s a huge fan. However, when he was old enough to realize that Batman was not one of the most intelligent career choices for someone who wanted an income, he decided a fashion designer would do. Good choice.


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