One of the most celebrated designers in American fashion, Ralph Lauren embodies timeless elegance. What began in 1967 with a collection of ties has grown into a world of products redefining global style. In 1978, Ralph Lauren introduced Polo for Men and Lauren for Women, marking the first time that two fragrances, one for men and one for women, were launched together. Both went on to become international classics. Today an entire collection of outstanding, award winning fragrances for men and women exists, each expressing a distinct personality and lifestyle in the Ralph Lauren tradition.
Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz in The Bronx to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Belarus: Fraydl (Kotlar) and Frank Lifshitz, a house painter. From a young age he started working after school to earn money to buy suits. The four-year younger Calvin Klein, lived in the same Bronx neighborhood but it is not known if they ever met while living there.
Lauren attended the Salanter Academy Jewish Day School followed by MTA (now known as the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy),
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before eventually graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1957. In MTA Lauren was known by his classmates for selling ties to his fellow students.
In his Clinton yearbook he stated under his picture that he wanted to be a millionaire. Other notables who attended this school include Burt Lancaster, Robert Klein, and Stan Lee. At age 16, Ralph`s brother Jerry changed their last name from Lifshitz to Lauren (his brother Lenny retained the name Lifshitz for many years).
He went to Baruch College (of the City University of New York) where he studied business, although he dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the United States Army. After his discharge in 1968, he married Ricky Low-Beer. 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. Lauren`s fashion empire has since grown into a billion-dollar business.
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