44 Must-Know Facts About Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is an American clothing designer best known for his sportswear line Polo Ralph Lauren, the centerpiece of his fashion empire.

From its founding, Polo Ralph Lauren has always ensured that its products are the best they can be.

But as one of the most well-known denizens of fashion, there are just some things about Lauren that aren't all that well-known about Ralph Lauren the man—as well as the billion dollar company he built on a foundation of dreams.

Here, you'll discover how the brand has grown throughout its history, from creating its first polo shirt to its later partnership with other companies.


Ralph Lauren was born as Ralph Rueben Lifshitz on October 14, 1939, in the Bronx, New York.

There's a 50/50 chance you've been saying "Lauren" wrong this whole time.
According to Ralph's niece, Jenny Lauren, the iconic last name is pronounced "as the girls' first name [laur-un] and not the same as Italian actress Sophia Loren [lo-wren]."

Ralph's parents were Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants who moved to The Bronx.

Lauren was the youngest of four siblings – two brothers and one sister.

At age 16, Ralph's brother Jerry changed their last name from Lifshitz to Lauren. One of their other brothers, Lenny, retained the Lifshitz name for years.

On December 20, 1964, he married Ricky Anne Loew-Beer in New York City. Ricky is the daughter of an Margaret Vytouch, and Rudolph Loew-Beer. The two met six months earlier, in a doctor's office where Ricky was working as a receptionist and on alternative days teaching dance.

They have three children, Andrew Lauren, David Lauren and Dylan Lauren.

His son, David Lauren, married Lauren Bush, the niece of George W in 2011. She is now called Lauren Bush Lauren.

Ralph's daughter Dylan opened her own franchise of candy shops.

Greg Lauren is Ralph Lauren's nephew. He's the son of Ralph Lauren's brother Jerry.

The Lauren family has a rescue dog named Rugby.
Rugby is the Lauren family's dog who was rescued when they found him near the family ranch in Colorado.

Ralph Lauren is the only designer to receive all of the CFDA's highest honors – Lifetime Achievement, Womenswear Designer of the Year, Menswear Designer of the Year, Retailer of the Year.

From 1962 to 1964, he briefly served in the United States Army, following which he worked with the Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant.

Lauren made his first ties out of old rags and sold them out of a drawer in the Empire State Building.
Ralph Lauren's first ties he designed—wide, European-style neckwear initially rejected by his employer—was inspired by the ones he saw actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. wearing.

Ralph Lauren's first investor was preppy clothier Norman Hilton. Lauren secured a $50,000 loan in 1968 to start his brand. He would later buy the "Polo" name from Hilton.

A Bloomingdale's buyer once asked a young Lauren to take his name off his ties and put their private label, Sutton East, on instead.
They also wanted them a quarter inch narrower. Lauren declined. Bloomingdale's called back six months later and wanted to fill the racks with ties branded with his name.

The first women's collection for Polo Ralph Lauren was launched in 1971, in Beverly Hills, California.
The line developed into four lifestyle groups: collection, classics, country, and active and featured Lauren's signature tailoring, but with a feminine twist.
This line, called Polo Women's Wear, was a success and helped establish Lauren as a leading designer in the fashion industry.

Ralph Lauren's famous Polo shirts were released in 1972, and they came in 24 colors.
The design itself had evolved from tennis shirts (brought up-to-date by René Lacoste in the 1920s) and the designs worn by actual polo players, who had adopted the comfortable tennis shirt.

Ralph Lauren did not invent the polo shirt.
Although he popularized the polo shirt and made it iconic, the polo shirt actually originated from tennis player René Lacoste in the 1920s. Lacoste created the shirt for himself to be more comfortable during matches, and it soon gained popularity among other players. Ralph Lauren introduced his own version of the polo shirt in the 1970s, which became a fashion staple. So while Ralph Lauren didn't invent the polo shirt, he played a significant role in its rise to prominence.

The Polo brand almost went bankrupt in 1972.
Lauren suddenly discovered that his enterprise was almost bankrupt because of poor financial management and the costs of headlong expansion.
Lauren then invested $100,000 of his own savings into the company and recruited Peter Strom from his post at Norman Hilton to become his business partner.
Lauren then owned 90% of the company, while Strom owned 10%.

The Rhinelander Mansion, home of Ralph Lauren's flagship store, is named for heiress Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo, wh.
After being completed in 1898, the lease bounced around until 1983, when Lauren purchased it and performed a 18 month renovation.

In 1987, Ralph Lauren had was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. He had it removed in April of that year.

In 1989, Mr. Lauren, alongside Katharine Graham, co-founded the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown Lombardi in honor of his close friend and former fashion editor of The Washington Post, Nina Hyde.

There are just about 30 sub-brands under the Ralph Lauren umbrella.

The Polo Bear began as a stuffed animal.
The Polo Bear sweater debuted in 1991.

Ralph Lauren opened the RL Restaurant in Chicago in 1999.

At 37,000 square feet, Chicago's Ralph Lauren store is one of the world's largest.

In 1999, Ralph Lauren shut down a magazine related to the sport of polo for calling itself "Polo."
The magazine belonged to the U.S. Polo Association. The ruling was reversed upon repeal in 2001, but the magazine had to include a small disclaimer, stating that it was "not affiliated with Polo Ralph Lauren."

RRL (pronounced double RL) is the iconic collection from Ralph Lauren that captures a genuine Southwestern style and vintage look.
Ralph Lauren's idyllic Colorado ranch inspired these infamous pieces as he was exposed to styles such as workwear from gold rush miners, ranch hands, and the Civil War military.
The line is meant to be the type of stuff Ralph would wear at the ranch. The two "Rs" reference Ralph and his wife Ricky.

Tyson Beckford was the first black male model to sign an exclusive contract with Ralph Lauren in 1993. He was also the first black male model to receive supermodel status.

The Polo Ralph Lauren brand gained more recognition in 1974 when he created the costumes for the male cast of The Great Gatsby.

Jennifer Aniston's character on Friends, Rachel Green, worked for Ralph Lauren.
In Season 5, she leaves her job as a Buyer and Personal Shopper at Bloomingdale's for an executive position at Ralph Lauren.

Some of Ralph Lauren's clothes were featured in Woody Allen's iconic Annie Hall film.

Kanye West once got a seersucker suit tailored in the RL store.

Ralph Lauren's "Big Pony" logo stemmed from their sports partnerships.
Since 2005, Ralph Lauren has partnered with sports associations like the USTA, and outfitted Wimbledon in 2006. The "Big Pony" logo sprang up around this time as a way to make the Polo branding much more visible. "The Big Pony has been associated with the product collections tied to our successful sporting partnerships such as Olympics, U.S. Open and Wimbledon," said a Ralph Lauren spokesperson to The Wall Street Journal in 2012, when they sponsored the Olympic Team Uniforms.

Polo Ralph Lauren was the first label to sponsor Wimbledon in 2006. The brand redesigned the uniforms worn by the ball boys and girls and the judges.

In 2007, Ralph Lauren was among several companies sued by Levi's, accused of copying the company's trademark arcuates on the back pockets of their jeans. The case was later dismissed.

Ralph Lauren created the Ricky Handbag, inspired by his wife, and it can cost up to $22,500.
All Ricky Bags are made by hand in Italy from 50 separate pieces of leather and nine different pieces of hardware, requiring two expert artisans 10–12 hours to make one bag.

In 2011, Ralph Lauren announced it was officially dropping "Polo" from its brand name.
The idea was to further distinguish itself from the polo shirt, which has become a generic menswear staple.

From 2007-2012, American Living, an exclusive lower-priced Ralph Lauren line without any visible RL branding, was sold at J.C. Penney.

A lot of popular menswear designers have worked for Ralph Lauren at one point or another.
Former employees include Simon Spurr, John Varvatos, Vera Wang, Todd Snyder, Tory Burch, Tim Coppens (who designed RLX), Thom Browne (a former creative director of Club Monaco) and Michael Bastian.

J. Crew's head men's designer is a Ralph Lauren alumni.
Frank Muytjens, J. Crew's head of men's design, spent eight years working at Ralph Lauren before making the move to J. Crew.

Ralph Lauren has an amazing car collection with a few that are priceless.
His collection reportedly features over 70 cars.
Lauren owns one of two existing Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantics in the world—only four were ever produced. This breathtaking vintage sports car has won the title of World's Most Prestigious Car, along with many others, in 2013. It has a price of $40 million.

In 2014, Ralph Lauren's revenue was roughly $7.5 billion.
That's enough money to buy pretty much every Ralph Lauren grail piece in the world.

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