Polo Ralph Lauren has become one of the most renounced clothing companies of the 20th and 21st century. The creator of Polo is a man named Ralph Lifschitz who was born on October 14, 1939 in New York, New York (Ralph Lauren). He was born to Fraydl Kotlar and Frank Lifshitz who were Ashkenazi Jewish from Belarus. In 1955, when Ralph was 16, he and his brother changed their last name to Lauren because they were made fun constantly for having a Jewish last name but his brother Lenny kept the last name (Ralph Lauren).
At the age of 18 Ralph worked for various fashion stores such as: Bloomingdale’s, Brooks Brothers, and the Rivetz of Boston neckwear company as a salesman for all of the stores (Vogue). While he worked at all these jobs Ralph studied at the City College of New York for business. Three years later in 1960, Lauren was drafted in to the military and he joined the U.S. Army Reserves and he started basic training at Fort Dix (Vogue). Lauren once said “When I was growing up, officers in uniform were very impressive to me… When you wear an old military jacket there’s some sort of connection to those qualities, the way the uniforms were made really inspired me for some of my designs that I made later on.” (Vogue). Four year later, in 1964 Ralph marries Ricky Low-Beer.
Since Ralph had been around clothes so much-to be more correct neckties- he created his first line of neckties in 1967 but instead of using his name Ralph Lauren, he uses the alias Polo (Vogue). In 1968 Polo menswear launched and it featured English-cut suits, pleated pants, and Fair Isle sweaters (Vogue). Ralph told Vogue “none of the magazines even wrote about my new line, or came to my show”. The president of Bloomingdale-Marvin Traub-took notice of his new line and gave Ralph his own in-store boutique at the age of 29, it opened in 1969. The boutique was very successful and helped position Bloomingdale and Ralph as the new faces of menswear.
In 1970 when Lauren was 30 he received an Coty Award for menswear after designing an unlined, “unconstructed” suit which is basically what most of the suits today look like. In 1971 Ralph puts the man playing polo on the
cuff of the shirt instead of on the chest of the shirt like it is now (Vogue). There were some trademark issues which made it to where Ralph couldn’t just put Polo on his clothing. Since Ralph couldn’t do that he called it “Ralph Lauren” but later he will get the Polo trademark and call his brand Polo Ralph Lauren. By the end of the 1970’s Polo Ralph Lauren will have expanded from the little boutique in Bloomingdale’s to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida and this was the first sign to Ralph that his clothing company was going to be a big.
When the collared shirts with the polo-player logo was introduced in 1972 it was released in 24 different colors. If you had a polo shirt at this time, it showed your class in the preppy world. Ralph Lauren was once asked “how can a Jewish kid from the Bronx do preppy clothes?” and he replied with this “Does it have to do with class and money? It has to do with dreams.” (Ralph Lauren). Women found his clothes fashionable because it gave them something different to wear than the traditional gypsy and hippie styles of clothing, after figuring out that women liked his clothing he started a womenswear line in 1972 and it was a huge success. Four year later, in 1976 at the age of thirty-seven Ralph Lauren wins another Coty award for womenswear and this makes him the first designer to win in both categories of menswear and womenswear. He also wins a Coty Hall of Fame award, and in celebration of the award The New York Times did an article on him and pictured him with model Patti Hansen in a Tux laughing with Lauren in a Tuxedo Jacket and jeans, both holding cigarettes, the title of the article was “I’m having a Black Tie Affair with Ralph Lauren.” (Vogue). This gave the brand of Ralph Lauren a huge push around the world because he had a supermodel pose with him in this article and the fact that he was in Time magazine which people all over the world read also put his name out there in the world. In the 1980’s and 1990’s is when Ralph Lauren gained most of his wealth of, 6.5 billion dollars (Ralph Lauren). In the 1980’s Ralph Lauren expanded his business to include children wear, eyewear, underwear, jeans, shoes, accessories, housewares, furs, luggage, and a plethora of other products (Ralph Lauren: American Classic). Even though most of the companies that expanded too fast like this suffered brand image dilution, Polo was
actually made stronger because of many reasons. Mainly because Ralph designed everything himself and if he didn’t directly design the item he still had the last say on how the item looked and what material was put inside it. Another reason Polo stayed in high fashion is because retail never lowered and it was always a higher price. Ralph once said “I won’t lower my price for anyone. If you can’t buy my clothing than don’t buy it.” (Ralph Lauren: American Classic). In the 2000’s Ralph Lauren made a multimedia marketing joint venture with NBC and allies, and ValueVision, operator of Home Shopping Network. Polo Ralph Lauren became one of the first companies only to use advertisement through electronics, Polo.com was created in 2000 and this was one of the first fashion websites in history (Ralph Lauren: American Classic). In 2001 Polo made their first online magazine telling people all things celebrity, sport, art and culture about polo, that same year Polo created Runway.Polo.com. this was made to provide fashion fans with a look behind the scenes in collection-development and fashion shows, while offering style and beauty tips (Ralph Lauren: American Classic). Through the 46 years Polo Ralph Lauren has had hundreds of fashion shows but never overseas until now. He’s chosen to do his first fashion show overseas at one of the most historic art schools in the world called École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France on October 8, 2013 (Ralph Lauren’s first..). Ralph Lifschitz was just a boy from a working class Orthodox Jewish family in the Bronx who started out selling neckties in many of the high fashion stores in New York. He came from the bottom just selling and making neckties in a small boutique in Bloomingdale to creating and breaking down barriers in the fashion industry. Ralph now has hundreds of stores across the world which has made him a billionaire. Polo Ralph Lauren was made to celebrate the preppy, sporty, wealthy, and traveled, while keeping a modern look. Polo has been around for 46 years and has never lost its value which is very rare for any company to do. Works Cited
“Ralph Lauren. Biography” Bio. True Story. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2013 “Ralph Lauren.” The World of Fashion in Voguepedia .2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2013 “Ralph Lauren: American Classic.” Eurbanista Brand Strategy, Sustainability and the Digital Revolution in Fashion, Luxury and Media. 2009. Web. 14 Oct. 2013 “Ralph Lauren’s first international runway show honors Paris
school restoration.” Luxury Daily. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013