Rags To Riches Series: Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren, the youngest of four children, grew up in the Bronx, New York sharing a bedroom with his brothers. He realised from an early age he had a passion for designing clothes and at the age of 12, he began working after school in a tie shop. He tried to get his own designs made however the owner refused stating, “The world isn’t ready for Ralph Lauren.” s
He developed a love for the movies, regularly attending the cinema where he would dream of a better life. Much of this influenced his later design work where he took inspiration from favourite actors such as Fred Astaire and Cary Grant.
”That vision, that ability to step into a fantasy world, Ralph bought to the fashion business.” says Michael Gross, in the biography Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren
Ralph had an unquenchable desire for success that was matched only for his love of fine living and elegant styles. He was determined to step away from the poverty he encountered from an early age. When he was asked to list his goals in his high school yearbook, Ralph simply wrote “Millionaire.”
After a brief stint in the army, he took up a position as a sales clerk with Brooks Brothers where he married his wife, Ricky Low-Beer, whom he is still with. They moved to New York to pursue his dream of becoming a successful fashion designer.
In 1967 he started designing and creating professional ties, his innovation ended up making him over half a million dollars. This was quickly followed by the release of his famous Ralph Lauren polo shirt in 1972 which transformed his into the fashion mogul he had always dreamed of becoming.
The Ralph Lauren Brand has since rocketed to over 400 stores worldwide and his collections have expanded to focus on the all American-Style that has driven the brands success. Combining easy to wear, elegant pieces, the Ralph Lauren brand has built a reputation on spotting and creating trends within the fashion world.
He is now listed as one of the most wealthiest men in the world, owning beach resorts in Jamaica and Montauk, and is still a regular on the US social scene.