How Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren Became Billionaire Bio and Lifestyle

Ralph Lifshitz was born in New York City in 1939, the youngest of four by Russian Jewish immigrants. As a teenager, he changed his last name to Lauren and walked around his Bronx neighborhood wearing outlandish styles like army fatigues and tweed jackets.

Ralph Lifshitz was born in New York City in 1939, the youngest of four by Russian Jewish immigrants. As a teenager, he changed his last name to Lauren and walked around his Bronx neighborhood wearing outlandish styles like army fatigues and tweed jackets.

Google Maps

Source: O, The Oprah Magazine

After dropping out of Baruch College two years in, he enlisted in the US Army and served from 1962 to 1964. He then had a short stint as a tie salesman at Brooks Brothers and another, now-defunct tie company.

After dropping out of Baruch College two years in, he enlisted in the US Army and served from 1962 to 1964. He then had a short stint as a tie salesman at Brooks Brothers and another, now-defunct tie company.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Source: O, The Oprah Magazine

By 26, he was designing and selling his own neckwear. He put together “rags” and fashioned them into ties. He designed a distinctive fatter, European-style neck tie, making them “out of a drawer” in the Empire State Building.

By 26, he was designing and selling his own neckwear. He put together "rags" and fashioned them into ties. He designed a distinctive fatter, European-style neck tie, making them "out of a drawer" in the Empire State Building.

Wikimedia Commons

Source: O, The Oprah Magazine

At first, he found it hard to sell the ties. His first big break was when a buyer from Neiman Marcus told Lauren he had “been seeing them around” and ended up buying 100 dozen ties. Bloomingdale’s asked him to make them narrower and take off his label. He refused, and continued peddling his ties. Six months later, Bloomingdale’s ordered a case.

At first, he found it hard to sell the ties. His first big break was when a buyer from Neiman Marcus told Lauren he had "been seeing them around" and ended up buying 100 dozen ties. Bloomingdale's asked him to make them narrower and take off his label. He refused, and continued peddling his ties. Six months later, Bloomingdale's ordered a case.

Reuters

Source: O, The Oprah Magazine, Port Magazine

 

In 1967, the Ralph Lauren brand was born, and Lauren sold his ties under the Polo line in a separate store. Lauren had never played polo, but the sport was synonymous with the Ivy League-inspired aesthetic he had in mind.

In 1967, the Ralph Lauren brand was born, and Lauren sold his ties under the Polo line in a separate store. Lauren had never played polo, but the sport was synonymous with the Ivy League-inspired aesthetic he had in mind.

Toptal

In the early 1970s, Lauren won the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award, launched his first full fashion line, opened a stand-alone boutique for it, and debuted the Polo pony that would became synonymous with the brand.

In the early 1970s, Lauren won the Coty American Fashion Critics' Award, launched his first full fashion line, opened a stand-alone boutique for it, and debuted the Polo pony that would became synonymous with the brand.

AP/AT

In the full line was the world’s first short-sleeved collared pique shirt, complete with polo pony and available in 24 colors. It became a classic, and the style of shirt has been known as a polo shirt ever since.

In the full line was the world's first short-sleeved collared pique shirt, complete with polo pony and available in 24 colors. It became a classic, and the style of shirt has been known as a polo shirt ever since.

Facebook/Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren brand now spans the globe and is one of the most recognized clothing brands in the world. It does billions in sales every year and is synonymous with preppy Americana style with an instantly recognizable logo and name.

The Ralph Lauren brand now spans the globe and is one of the most recognized clothing brands in the world. It does billions in sales every year and is synonymous with preppy Americana style with an instantly recognizable logo and name.

AP Photo/Richard Drew

 

In 1997, Ralph Lauren Corporation went public to great fanfare, and it’s listed as RL on the NYSE. It had the most successful offering of a US fashion company until Michael Kors went public in 2011.

In 1997, Ralph Lauren Corporation went public to great fanfare, and it's listed as RL on the NYSE. It had the most successful offering of a US fashion company until Michael Kors went public in 2011.

Ralph Lauren, his wife Ricky, and their children David and Dylan at the New York Stock Exchange in 1997AP Photo/Richard Drew

Source: WSJ

“I’ve never wanted to be in fashion. Because if you’re in fashion, you’re going to be out of fashion,” Lauren once said.

"I've never wanted to be in fashion. Because if you're in fashion, you're going to be out of fashion," Lauren once said.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Source: Esquire UK

In 2015, Lauren announced he was stepping down as CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation. He remains chief creative officer and executive chairman.

In 2015, Lauren announced he was stepping down as CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation. He remains chief creative officer and executive chairman.

REUTERS

Source: Business Insider

Lauren married Ricky Anne Loew-Beer in 1964. He is said to have proposed on their first date. The two have three children together.

Lauren married Ricky Anne Loew-Beer in 1964. He is said to have proposed on their first date. The two have three children together.

AP/Evan Agostini

 

The oldest, Andrew Lauren, is a film producer and actor.

The oldest, Andrew Lauren, is a film producer and actor.

Getty/Mireya Acierto

The middle child, David Lauren, serves as executive vice president of global advertising, marketing, and communications at Ralph Lauren Corporation. He also sits on the board of directors. In 2011, he married model and entrepreneur Lauren Bush, who then became Lauren Bush Lauren.

The middle child, David Lauren, serves as executive vice president of global advertising, marketing, and communications at Ralph Lauren Corporation. He also sits on the board of directors. In 2011, he married model and entrepreneur Lauren Bush, who then became Lauren Bush Lauren.

AP/Mark Lennihan

The youngest, Dylan Lauren, took after her entrepreneurial father and opened Dylan’s Candy Bar, a chain of boutique candy shops located in several major US cities.

The youngest, Dylan Lauren, took after her entrepreneurial father and opened Dylan's Candy Bar, a chain of boutique candy shops located in several major US cities.

Getty/Robin Marchant

Source: Forbes

Lauren is known for his classic car collection, which numbers some 70 cars and is estimated to be worth $200 million. Vintage Italian exotics from the 20th century make up the bulk of it, while there’s only one American car in the collection. He keeps it in a Westchester County, New York, garage that he purpose-built for storing the cars.

Lauren is known for his classic car collection, which numbers some 70 cars and is estimated to be worth $200 million. Vintage Italian exotics from the 20th century make up the bulk of it, while there's only one American car in the collection. He keeps it in a Westchester County, New York, garage that he purpose-built for storing the cars.

The 36 Bugatti Type 57sc Atlantic, one of only two in the world and worth an estimated $40 million.AP/Steven Senne

Source: Forbes

Many of the cars are extremely rare, like this 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. Some of them are often loaned to automobile museums around the world for special exhibitions.

Many of the cars are extremely rare, like this 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. Some of them are often loaned to automobile museums around the world for special exhibitions.

AP/Jacques Brinon

Source: The Telegraph

Lauren donates much of his considerable fortune to philanthropic endeavors — cancer research chief among them. It’s a topic that became especially close to his heart after he defeated brain cancer in 1987. He co-founded the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown University in 1989, and in 1994 helped launch the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign.

Lauren donates much of his considerable fortune to philanthropic endeavors — cancer research chief among them. It's a topic that became especially close to his heart after he defeated brain cancer in 1987. He co-founded the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown University in 1989, and in 1994 helped launch the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign.

Here he is shaking the hand of Prince William after a contribution to the The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust specialized cancer hospital in London.Getty

Source: The New York Times

His largest effort, however, is with the Ralph Lauren Corporation-affiliated Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, launched in 2001. It donates money to various charitable causes.

His largest effort, however, is with the Ralph Lauren Corporation-affiliated Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, launched in 2001. It donates money to various charitable causes.

Facebook/Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care

In 2014, Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his role in preserving the original Star-Spangled Banner.

In 2014, Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his role in preserving the original Star-Spangled Banner.

Getty/Win McNamee

Lauren is well-entrenched in fashion royalty, and hobnobs with the likes of Anna Wintour. He has an automatic invite to the star-studded Met Gala every year.

Lauren is well-entrenched in fashion royalty, and hobnobs with the likes of Anna Wintour. He has an automatic invite to the star-studded Met Gala every year.

Getty/Peter Kramer

Lauren was given the Key to New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010.

Lauren was given the Key to New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010.

AP/Frank Franklin II

He owns an apartment on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, a home in the nearby suburb of Bedford, and a beach house on Long Island.

He owns an apartment on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, a home in the nearby suburb of Bedford, and a beach house on Long Island.

Bing Maps

He also has a ranch in Colorado and a vacation home in Jamaica.

He also has a ranch in Colorado and a vacation home in Jamaica.

Shutterstock