Ralph Lauren was born on October 14, 1939 in The Bronx, New York, to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, from Pinsk, Belarus Fraydl (Kotlar) and Frank Lifshitz, a house painter. His birth name was Ralph Rueben Lifshitz. He is an American fashion designer and business executive. He is best-known for his Polo Ralph Lauren clothing brand.
From a young age he started working after school to earn money to buy suits. Ralph Lifshitz attended the Salanter Academy Jewish Day School followed by Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, before eventually graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1957. In Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy Lauren was known by his classmates for selling ties to his fellow students. In a moment of spontaneity, when asked what he wanted to do in his Clinton yearbook he stated under his picture that he wanted to be a millionaire. At the age of 16, Ralph’s brother Jerry changed their last name from Lifshitz to Lauren although Ralph’s brother Lenny retained the name Lifshitz.
He went to the Baruch School of Business and Civic Administration of the City College of New York, now known as Baruch College where he studied business, although he dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the United States Army. On December 20th 1964, he married Ricky Anne Low-Beer in New York City. The two met six months earlier, in an eye doctor’s office where Ricky was working as a receptionist. They have two sons and a daughter, Andrew Lauren, David Lauren, Dylan Lauren. Andrew is a film producer, David is an executive at Polo Ralph Lauren and Dylan owns and operates an upscale candy store, Dylan’s Candy Bar, at 60th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan.
He did not attend fashion school, but worked for Brooks Brothers as a salesman. In 1967, with the financial backing of Norman Hilton, Lauren opened a necktie store where he also sold ties of his own design, under the label “Polo.” He later purchased the name from Hilton.
In 1970, Ralph Lauren won the COTY Award for his menswear line. During the same time period he released a line of women’s suit that were tailored in a classic men’s style, with the first Polo emblem on the cuff of the women’s suit. Ralph Lauren, released Polo’s famous short sleeve mesh shirt with the Polo logo in 1972. It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic.
In 1984, he transformed the Rhinelander Mansion, former home of the photographer Edgar de Evia and Robert Denning, into the flagship store for Polo Ralph Lauren.
By 2007 Ralph Lauren had over 35 boutiques in United States. There were 23 locations that carried Ralph Lauren Purple Label, including Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Boston, Charlotte, Wisconsin Avenue, Chicago, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Manhasset, New York, Palm Beach, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Short Hills, and Troy. In 2010, Ralph Lauren was decorated Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Paris.
Sometime in early 1987, he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. In April 1987 he underwent surgery to remove the tumor and made a full recovery.
As of 2010, Forbes estimates his wealth at $4.6 billion, which would make Ralph Lauren the 173rd richest person in the world.