There is no brand more fabled than Ralph Lauren, an empire synonymous with Kennedy looks, classic preppy staples and wholesome privilege. Hailing from the Bronx and the son of a house painter, Ralph Lifshitz as he was born didn’t come from the glossy world of his label’s own lifestyle but he always had a very specific vision of where he was going. In Lauren’s own words, “everything I’ve done in my career has been personal.”
It is this connectedness to his brand that has ensured Ralph Lauren’s enduring appeal and earned the empire a unique place in the very fabric of American folklore. Its distinctly Americana look began with a humble range of men’s ties, unique in their wide cut, sold at Bloomingdale’s by an enterprising Brooks Brothers salesman, Ralph Lauren. Soon after the offering expanded into a full menswear range titled “Polo” in a nod to Lauren’s love of sports. It wasn’t before long he designed a women’s collection, later opening a store on Beverly Hills’ famed Rodeo Drive – the first freestanding store for an American designer, and well, the rest is history. Today, the definitive leisure wear brand is best known for its embroidered polo pony logo adorning everything from bath towels to its iconic polo t-shirt. Interestingly the logo was designed by another athleisure legend and tennis icon, Rene Lacoste. With the help of a long running association with Nacho Figueras, photographer Bruce Weber and a bevvy of genetically blessed faces Lauren’s grand interpretation of the polo lifestyle has shaped the modern mythology of polo itself.
Aviator lens, combed white mane, a coffee coloured tan and an aesthetic that’s salt of the earth meets old money, Lauren’s own personal style has become as storied as his wares. Whether he’s sporting a crisp white tee with classic blue jeans, a debonaire pinstripe suit, double denim, cashmere turtlenecks a la Ernest Hemingway or prep school tartan oxfords and a cowboy hat Ralph Lauren is his label’s own best advertisement. With seemingly diverse references to American Western, Native American, Anglophile and preppy fashion modes an element of relaxed refinement binds and permeates the Ralph Lauren brand DNA. Lauren has single handedly personified and, quite literally, designed the American dream and sold it to the world. Now that’s iconic.