In the US, Oprah is certainly one of the most well known TV personalities. When I heard that she met the likewise famous Ralph Lauren on his DOUBLE RL Ranch in the Rocky Mountains for an exclusive interview, I knew I had to watch it.
Ralph Lauren And The Origins Of His Eponymous POLO Brand
While most people are familiar with the name, Ralph Lauren, only very few know that he was born Ralph Lifshitz to Belarusian immigrants on October 14th, 1939 in the Bronx. His father was an artist who would occasionally paint houses. The youngest of four kids, Ralph developed a sense of style early on. As such, he treasured his siblings’ hand-me-downs, and with his own money, he bought clothes at the local army surplus store.
In the interview, we learn that at the age of 16, Ralph Lauren worked at a department store dealing with store returns. At that time, the idea of fashion design, or more specifically, fashion designers was something entirely new. So, when he talked to his boss about wanting to design his own line of ties, he replied, “The world isn’t ready for Ralph Lauren!” At the time, Ralph Lauren thought it was a compliment, but little did he know that he would become to one of the most celebrated designers, equipping teams such as the US Olympics Team, Wimbledon and the US Open.
The Polo Pony
Despite his boss’s skepticism, Ralph Lauren started selling wide ties in 1967, which, at the time, differed from what was widely available. He worked out of a drawer, “not an office” as he emphasizes, at the empire state building and delivered his ties in person, wearing jeans and a bomber jacket. The same year he launched his Polo label. He decided on this name because he loved sports and polo seemed to be an international sport that was more sophisticated than “basketball”. Although the Polo pony today is most frequently associated with Ralph Lauren, it was first used as a brand logo by the Viennese tailoring house Knize in 1924. Back then, it was designed by Ernst Deutsch Dryden and utilized for Knize because it was a symbol of the utmost elegance. Interestingly, as of 1941, Knize maintained a store in NYC on 56th Street and had a polo statute which was supposed to help associate the game with the Knize brand. However, the New York branch was closed in 1974, and Ralph Lauren’s pony went on to conquer the world. At the time of the interview, the Polo Ralph Lauren Empire consisted of 452 stores in over 80 countries around the world producing revenue of roughly $12 billion a year.
Ralph Lauren And Bloomingdales
In the beginning of Polo, things were not that easy. Ralph Lauren had an offer from Bloomingdales to sell his ties, if he could make them narrower and take off his own name. Back in the day, Bloomingdales was the hottest name in town, but nevertheless, he decided to turn the offer down. Surprisingly, half a year later, when Lauren was 26 years old, Bloomingdales reached out to him again and agreed to sell the wide ties under his name. One day, he noticed that Bloomingdales began selling other ties in the same style, which lead him to the conclusion that his time was over. However, he was encouraged by one of Bloomingdales staff who said that the difference between his ties and the other were “love”, meaning they were made with passion.
Ralph Lauren: The Person And Family Man
Lauren designed things had he would have wanted and could not find. For example, his wife, Ricky, noticed that their children’s shirts were made of a polyester/cotton blend and not just high quality cotton. As a consequence, Ralph decided to start his children’s line.
He also emphasizes that he is not focused on fashion, but rather on lifestyle, and mentions that his designs are derived from stories and he confesses that he only wears things he loves, no matter whether it is a Ralph Lauren suit or someone else’s creation.
Moreover, he talks a little bit about his personal life, including that he had a brain tumor and that he considers himself to be an ambassador for the US, not like president Obama but “like his assistant”.
His wife, Ricky, joins the conversation and later on, their three children talk to Oprah as well. They all point out that it is important to be happy with what you are doing and your life.
At the end of the interview, Oprah sits down with the family for a nice dinner in their lodge.
Altogether, this Ralph Lauren interview does not reveal any revolutionary new details, but I found it to be quite interesting nevertheless, and it seemed to me that Mr. Lauren was quite authentic. Oprah describes him as the “quintessential American designer,” and the ranch setting of the interview, as well as the imagery of Ralph in the rugged landscape, only serves to emphasize this point. Even though Lauren claims he’s “not a cowboy,” he clearly meant what he said about loving the American west and wearing what he likes. Backed by snow-capped peaks, grazing animals, or hand-hewn logs, Ralph wears denim, flannel plaid shirts, cowboy hat, boots, and copious amounts of turquoise jewelry. Altogether, it is a truly unique profile of one of America’s style ambassadors.
Now, enjoy the video:
Via Mister Crew