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The 73-year-old embraced a huge change in his life while turning from a Bronx-born kid to a fashion mogul. He is the 155th richest person in the world.
Ralph Lauren was born in a Jewish and immigrant middle-class family and was the youngest of the four siblings. He grew up in the Bronx and was dirt poor. After dropping out of college, he scored himself as a gloves salesman.
In 1966, he came up with an idea to design a wide and European style necktie he had seen Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. wearing, but Brooks Bother rejected his idea. This rejection leads him to establish his own company, working out of a drawer in the Empire State Building and taking rags and turning them to ties.
He sold ties to small shops throughout New York, until the retail chain Neiman Marcus bought 1200 from him, which is the major turning point of his life. In 1967 he and Norman Hilton together opened a necktie store under the label Polo originally used by Brooks Brothers.
In 1970, Ralph Lauren was given the Coty Award for his charismatic menswear line. In 1972, he launched his first ever collection for women line tailored in classic men’s style.
His recognition gave him flagship projects in Hollywood and soon he got calls for the movie The Great Gatsby for Diane Keaton and feature films like Annie Hall.
In 1984, he transformed the former home of photographer Edgar De Evia to the flagship store of Polo Ralph Lauren. Finally, in 1997, Ralph Lauren Corporation became a public company and traded on the NYSE under the symbol RL.
By 2007, Ralph Lauren had 35 boutiques in the United States with 23 locations carrying Ralph Lauren Purple Label.
Recently, in the year 2014, Ralph Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal.
He is also a well-known automobile collector and some of them are extremely rare. He has a real fascination for vintage cars and has 50 of them. His cars have won “Best in Show” at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance.
He owns 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, two Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas, three 1996 McLaren F1s, Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, 1929 Blower Bentley, one Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, Porsche 997 GT3 RS, Bugatti Veyron and more.