American Dreamer – Polo by Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren

Native New Yorker Ralph Lauren (ne Liefschitz) spent his formative years in The Bronx having had a fairly conventional upbringing as the son of Belarussian Jewish immigrants. Despite this Ralph displayed a an eye for smart clothing at an early age, working all the overtime he could get in various New York department stores in order to afford the latest and often most expensive styles. Prior to becoming the most iconic designer of his generation Ralph spent two years at business school before dropping out to sign up for the army. Once out of military life he got married in 1964 and got a job working for Brooks Brothers, in Manhattan making his first foray into the world of fashion.

In 1967 Ralph set up his own Polo brand whose timeless, collegiate inspired designs propelled him straight into the big time. Three years later the Ralph Lauren Polo shirt was born, redefining what had previously been the tennis shirt and thus stealing a lot of French brand Lacoste’s thunder.

During the 1980s Ralph diversified by expanding into homewares, denim, kids clothing, colognes and more. Meaning that not only could you be a well dressed all-American individual but now your home could also be the perfect image of the American dream, not to mention the kids. Lauren even included instructions on how to arrange his home collection. He opened a huge flagship store on Madison Avenue, the first of its kind to offer the immersive shopping experience we are now so familiar with.

The 1980s also saw the arrival of Ralph’s Polo brand and its various spin off lines that were picked up by everyone from royalty to rap crews. In fact the rise of hip hop culture during this time was instrumental in Polo’s success. Ralph’s humble Bronx background providing the perfect example of the aspirational ‘rags to riches’ rap narrative hitting the music scene at the time. The youth immediately identified with the brand, and acted accordingly and Polo became an instant success.

A household name for over 40 years Ralph Lauren has designed official uniforms for both the Olympics and the last ten Wimbledon tournaments. A benchmark for enduring style and quality Ralph Lauren Polo continues to make the American Dream in wearable form.

Written by Neil Summers

Polo by Ralph Lauren at The Sporting Lodge