Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz on October 14, 1939 in Bronx, New York. When he was young, he had to share a room with two of his brothers. His father painted houses for a living and brought home rather meager paychecks.
At a young age, he began developing a great sense of fashion. He got a job after school when he was twelve and used his extra money to buy expensive name brand suits.
After high school, Ralph started studying business at the City College of New York, but dropped out. While he was still in school, he had a day job as a salesman and took classes at night.
In 1962, he joined the United States Army, serving until 1964. After he was released from service, he married a woman named Ricky Low-Beer. They eventually had three kids together and are still happily married.
After the Army, he was able to get a job at A. Rivetz & Co. and design neckties on the side. He found that he loved to design clothing and sought out investors to help him launch a clothing company. In 1968, he finally found someone willing to lend him $50,000 and Ralph started Polo Fashions.
Ralph showed his creative independence when Bloomingdales attempted to get him to change his designs. Ralph designed wide ties, but they wanted narrow ties and also demanded that he remove his name from the label. Ralph ignored their demands and sought business elsewhere, slowly building a massive clothing empire.
In the early 1980s, Ralph Lauren's name defined the business suit and his clothing became very popular. He expanded into other areas, including casual shirts and pants. He also experimented in other areas such as furniture and linens that proved to be quite profitable.
Since then, his small store in New York has expanded into a billion dollar company that sells products worldwide. His style and label have prevailed throughout the last several decades with clothing that is simple, yet very stylish. The Ralph Lauren brand has come to represent high quality clothes that are built from fine materials and manufactured carefully. Ralph is still able to closely control his company since he owns 90% of the shares.
Using his extra money, Ralph buys classic cars and has an extensive collection. Many of his cars have won awards and were even featured at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Ralph also owns a homes in Colorado, Jamaica, and several locations in New York.