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December 2, 2022
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DESIGNERS

Polo Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is renowned less for the originality of his designs and more for his skill as a marketer and image developer, although one might make the case that he is the most successful and influential designer of his period. His early childhood was the beginning of his passion with fashion. Ralph Lifshitz was the fourth and last child to be born to Frank and Frieda Lifshitz, both of whom were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Ralph Lifshitz was born in 1939 in the Bronx, New York. He received his education in both traditional yeshivas and traditional public schools, and he was brought up with a strong work ethic.
Initial Interest in the Fashion Industry
Even when he was a little child, Lauren had a passion for fashion and was always one step ahead of his contemporaries in terms of his sense of style. He had a noticeable sense of style and enjoyed trying on the jaunty hats that belonged to his elegant father. He also donned the hand-me-downs that had been given to him by his elder brothers. In spite of the fact that he did not spend a lot of money on his attire, he always managed to set himself out with a unique drape or combo. He was able to wrap a Shetland sweater over his shoulders in the most flattering way possible and roll the cuffs of his pants in a specific and one-of-a-kind manner. He always saw himself in his head dressed in a tweed jacket with suede elbow patches when he daydreamed about having a career in education. Ralph and his brother Jerry spent a lot of time going shopping together, and during such trips, they found second-hand clothes stores. Lauren’s collections are still influenced by the memories of those hunting trips. It was in thrift shops that he discovered the joys of rugged military clothes, the integrity of British tweed suits, and the thrilling transformation that could take place when a socially backward Jewish kid donned a cowboy shirt and a pair of jeans and imagined himself at home on the range. These are all elements that can be found in Lauren’s collections.
Early in One’s Career
After finishing his education, he first worked as a buyer for Allied Stores, where he purchased furniture; later, after changing his surname to Lauren, he found work as a tie salesman for Brooks Brothers. After serving in the United States Army for a short time as a supply clerk, Lauren spent the 1960s working as a street vendor in New York City, where she sold gloves, men’s scent, and ties. Nevertheless, what was more essential was that he was honing his own style by creating his own one-of-a-kind suits, frequenting renowned men’s clothing retailers such as Paul Stuart, and drawing ideas from tailors who specialized in tailoring such as Roland Meledandri.
Lauren’s conservative managers in the tie industry were oblivious to the impending peacock revolution in men’s fashion, which led Lauren to become more angry with his superiors. In stealth mode, he developed a collection of broad ties, modeling them after those produced in England by the Mr. Fish brand. He looked for a sponsor who would be willing to fund the line and others who would be willing to create it. It was in 1967 that he established Polo as a sub-brand of the necktie manufacturer Beau Brummel.
Ralph Lauren was quickly brought to the attention of Bloomingdale’s, which at the time was the most innovative department store in the United States.
This marked the beginning of a robust and mutually beneficial friendship that continued to flourish well into the early 2000s.
Polo Brand
In 1968, Lauren went into business with the tailor Norman Hilton after leaving Beau Brummel and bringing the moniker Polo with him. Lauren started branching out, first into a comprehensive selection of apparel and furnishings for men, and then, in 1971, into women’s designs. This was the beginning of Lauren’s expansion. Even in those early days, he displayed characteristics that would define his career: an innate understanding of branding (he embroidered his polo player logo on the cuffs of his first women’s shirts, creating one of the most singular brand identities in the history of marketing); a fearless refusal to be reined in by finances or expectations; and a recklessness (doing too much too soon with insufficient capital and staff) that soon led to the first of several financial crises. All of these characteristics Later problems were brought on by Lauren’s intense—but never totally realized—desire to achieve the same level of success in women’s clothing that he had, almost immediately, in men’s wear. This drive led to a series of crises. After those initial broad ties, he went on to design legendary apparel for both sexes, including his well-known polo and oxford shirts, khakis, flawless Shetlands, prairie skirts, Navajo blanket jackets, and women’s outfits that were influenced by menswear. Those styles, despite his insistence on clothing exclusively a certain body type, which led to chronic fit and delivery concerns, as well as an almost paralyzing confusion about what to put in his lines, earned him a grudging admiration over the course of the years. The Great Gatsby and Annie Hall, two critically acclaimed films from the 1970s, both included clothing from his collections, which helped establish his reputation by appearing in the films.
Advertising in the Print Media
After Lauren and Warner Communications established a fragrance firm in the late 1970s, a flood of financial opportunities opened up for him. These opportunities earned him significant commercial influence and provided funding for his subsequent and maybe most significant breakthrough. Polo began producing extraordinary print advertisements that served as mini-movies, advertising the numerous product categories produced by Lauren, in partnership with the photographer Bruce Weber, who also worked for Calvin Klein. These advertisements promoted the myriad of product categories Lauren produced. More importantly, they emphasized Polo’s most valuable offering, which is the concept that clothes not only make the man and woman, but also make them into whoever they want to be, whether that be a New England patrician or a Colorado cowgirl. This was the company’s most successful marketing strategy.
Retailing Legacy
Lauren and his creative services department unveiled the extensive renovation and preservation project that is the Rhinelander Mansion in the late 1980s. The Rhinelander Mansion has been one of the architectural treasures of New York for a long time, and it is now the backdrop to Lauren’s ultimate Polo retail store. Retailing in the fashion industry has been fundamentally altered as a result. According to a biographer, he had become the personification of “the commodification of status, of the democratization of symbols of the haute monde, of the perfection of luxury merchandising and the rise of ‘lifestyle’ marketing, and of the globalization of branding and the simultaneous Americanization of international fashion.” He had become this way because he had become the embodiment of all of these things (Gross, 2003).
Despite the fact that Lauren did not always have the approval of fashion editors and his contemporaries in the fashion design field, he went on to win every award that could be awarded on designers, in addition to achieving international renown and a huge amount of cash. Polo became such a successful business that in June of 1997 it was converted into a publicly traded company and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Lauren, who is considered to be one of the greatest businessmen-designers in the history of fashion, remained motivated and dissatisfied even at the age of sixty-five. He was still working hard to prove himself. His effort to rebrand Polo as a premium luxury label was fraught with difficulties from the beginning. Investors and bankers were dubious not just of Polo’s place in the market, but also of its future, as Polo’s stock price continued to wallow below the highs it attained the day it was originally sold to the public in 2004. Ralph Lauren, who heads a firm that is significantly reliant upon his design and marketing talents, his style sensibility, and his personality, showed no indications of getting off his polo pony despite the fact that he is the leader of the company.

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