“People ask, ‘How can a Jewish kid from the Bronx do preppy clothes? Does it have to do with class and money?’ It has to do with dreams.”
Ralph Lauren— fashion guru, film fanatic, and the ultimate exemplar of a rags-to-riches story. This New York native grew up in the most modest of upbringings in the Bronx with nothing more than a dream and a keen eye. Today, he owns a global multi-billion dollar enterprise. His fanatical visions, drive, and talents that allowed him to build his fashion empire on his home turf are some of the many reasons why he is the first feature (and one of our favorites) in our new series, Notable New Yorkers.
Like many of those who flock to New York, Ralph Lauren had a dream to create a world far beyond his roots. He strived and succeeded in creating an empire that reflected his love of elegance, Hollywood glamour, and exquisite taste, redefining American style. While one of his many biographies can give you all of the juicy details of his life’s endeavors, we’ve collected a few fun and interesting facts to illustrate one of our favorite New Yorkers for you.
- When asked to list his goals in the De Witt Clinton High School’s class of 1957 yearbook, Ralph wrote: “millionaire.”
- At age 16, Ralph and his brother changed their last name from Lifshitz to Lauren to make their names sound more elegant.
- Ralph trademarked “Polo” from Brooks Brothers, where he worked briefly as a salesman at the Madison Avenue location, after dropping out of Baruch College.
- What’s his favorite show? “Watching Downtown Abbey is one of my greatest pleasures. It is so beautiful and the clothes are amazing. It’s like ‘Thank you, God, for this.”
- Actors Fred Astaire and Cary Grant, who he watched frequently in the cinema as a child, greatly influenced his later clothing lines.
- Ralph established his own company working out of a drawer in the Empire State Building, where he used old rags to make ties for men.
- Ralph owns over 70 of the world’s most prestigious automobiles.
- Ralph is ranked #193 on Forbes World Billionaires list as of January 2015.
- He became a notably famed designer when he created the costumes for the original Great Gatsby.