Ralph Lipchitz(Lauren) was born in 1939 in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants from Belarus. His father was a building painter and his family struggled to make ends meet. Nevertheless, the young Lipchitz quickly developed a taste for luxury clothes and he as a teenager started working to buy himself expensive suits. He began dreaming of a glorious future. At the age of 16, Ralph Lipchitz changed his name to Ralph Lauren, although some say that he was denying his Jewish heritage, Ralph considered it necessary for success.
Ralph Lauren went to the City College of New York studying business, but dropped out after two years. After a stint in the Army he landed a job as a gloves salesman at Brooks Brothers. It was for them that he created the "Polo" label, but then he quickly decided to go into business for himself.
In 1967, Ralph took out a loan of $50,000 to buy back the name Polo and developed a line of neckties under the name Polo Fashion. His ties made a tiny revolution: they were different in fabric, width, and color and became the indispensable accessory for men looking for an up-to-date elegance. As Lauren explained, "At the time, men expressed themselves through their ties... a beautiful tie made it possible to simultaneously express quality, taste, and style."
In 1969, Polo by Ralph Lauren was the first men's label to be sold in the New York temple of luxury, Bloomingdale's. Encouraged by this success, Lauren decided in 1971 to launch a women's line in order to offer his wife the wardrobe that she wanted. That same year, the famous polo player logo appeared on the wristbands of shirts and the first Ralph Lauren boutique opened its doors in the luxury neighborhood, Beverly Hills.
The brand gradually began to export and boutiques flourished around the planet, the first of which was on Bond Street in London. New lines were also launched, like Ralph Lauren Home in 1983 and Polo Sport in 1993. Fashion became nothing more than one element among many in the giant Ralph Lauren company, which entered the stock market in 1997.
In light of this history, Ralph Lauren's quote becomes clear: "We don't just sell clothes. We sell a dream and a vision of existence."
Ralph never attended fashion school, which didn’t hurt him any. He’s now worth $4.2 billion and that’s a lot of neckties.