Ralph Lauren: Preppy and Classic American Brand


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 Ralph Lauren is an American designer who is known for his classic yet elegant clothing. Lauren has had a ton of accomplishments throughout his life. He does not just design clothes for his own brand, he designs clothing for other people. If you see someone walking down the street in his clothes you will be able to identify the brand very quickly. You can identify his clothing by his signature Polo logo. His clothes are innovative and timeless. Lauren’s clothes are still in the rise today and will probably be around for a long time. Starting at a young age, Ralph Lauren was known for his distinctive style. Inspired by his icons, Fred Astaire and Cary Grant, his taste was simply vintage and classically preppy. Growing older, Lauren studied business for two years then moved his way to the retail industry at Brooks Brothers. Lauren said, “I had talent, I wanted to be my own boss, I just had to,’ and he did just that. As his love for fashion grew, Lauren decided to design his own men’s wide cut neckties in 1967 and branded his fashion with the name, Polo. As his tie sales went up in retail stores, it helped him develop his brand into a full menswear line. In 1970, Lauren won the Coty Award for his men’s line, and later he released a women’s line for tailored suits in a classic men’s style. These suits became extremely popular, but there was controversy about them because people said they only fit certain body types, but that did not stop Lauren from making more. In 1972, he released his very first iconic cotton short sleeve shirt which had 24 colors. He also created the signature Polo logo, which was created by tennis pro-Rene Lacoste. He created this shirt because he was all about comfort, but also wanted to stay true to his classic preppy vibe. As the shirt became a hit, he designed uniforms for the USA Olympic teams.

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 In 1974, Lauren made a huge impact in the movie industry by designing the costumes for the cast of The Great Gatsby. In a Classic American style, he dressed them in tailored suits that were aimed towards men. At such a young age Lauren had accomplished many things and his success just kept growing. Lauren was extremely aware of “luxury merchandising and the rise of ‘lifestyle’ marketing,’ so he decided to move his company in that direction. One of his true passions was sports. His clothes were very versatile. You could wear them to school but also wear them to practice. Lauren reformulated fashion into a whole new perspective. He will always be known for the classic “lifestyle,” yet luxury look. When Lauren first started his company, he wanted to appeal to a specific demographic. There were people that wanted the luxury of nice clothes, but the comfort level of more casual wear. Lauren intentionally created his designs to be a new look to high-end clothing. He did not just create a brand, he created a style. Ralph Lauren’s innovative clothes are inspired by European styles, while also having an American upper-class look. Lauren’s clothes are “sold in elegant surroundings, the Ralph Lauren collection seamlessly echoes the images of bygone eras”(Watson). The clothes were natural, comfortable, and most importantly, recognizable. Starting off with the Polo shirt, which was one of the singular most identifiable brands in history, was the first to embroider the Polo logo on the cuffs. He wanted this shirt to be universally known with 24 colors that were great for everyday use. Lauren’s first collection, Polo Ralph Lauren, was the first to launch the sportswear and tailored clothing. His clothes were aimed toward people who wanted to wear designer fashion clothing without being flashy. No matter if his lines were everyday clothing or couture, his style stayed cohesive. His elegant and high-quality clothing was a modern take on high-end fashion. Lauren’s clothes were already sporty in nature, so he decided to make athletic wear because of his own love of sports, especially golf. His athletic lines were a message to the world of his “dedication to innovation” (Martin Roll). 

Towards the beginning, people only knew of his company as a preppy, high-end clothing line, but he wanted to take it in a different direction. Lauren is a huge fan of sports, specifically golf. He started making clothes that were smart and useful for athletes to wear during practice and games. These athletic lines were not only focused on functionality, but also on style. He made sure that people could get the iconic look of his brand while still performing well in their sport. In 2014 he even made smart clothing that could track the heart rate and steps of the person wearing it. His drive and intelligence helped him create wearable clothing for all types of people. The versatility of his brand was the reason that he is still a household name today. Robert Burke once interviewed Ralph Lauren about his line. “He believes in offering what he calls ‘the dream’ to all different kinds of people and at different incomes,” said Robert Burke (Givhan). Lauren grew up with not a lot of money. He was the kid who came to school wearing an outfit that was very distinctive. 

His style was preppy and classic American. Lauren has always loved fashion since the beginning. Ralph Lauren was not a kid who believed he was going to be rich one day. He wanted to change other peoples lives with clothes of his own. When starting his own designs, he was thinking of the people; mostly the lower class. Lauren came from a humble family who knows how to work for things. Clothes are not just an accessory they are a need. Lauren’s clothes are for everyone. When designing his brand he was trying to achieve the “American Dream” with the success of his company. These clothes are specially made to have a high-end look but at an affordable price. He wants to offer the world high-end clothing even if they do not have a big bank account. Ralph Lauren’s most iconic piece is the teddy bear sweater. Back in the ’80s, Lauren’s design team gave him a teddy bear which was wearing a tiny polo shirt. This teddy bear was so special to Lauren, he put it in his own stores. These sweaters sold everywhere. They were so popular everyone wanted to have one. Since they were so popular he decided to put it on a sweater. On the sweater, he had the bear wear the polo shirt but have chino pants. This bear was a way for Lauren to express his feelings into his brand. The bear does not have a name, but the bear became his own celebrity. It first started off by just the bear in his tiny polo shirt, to have the shirt changed to an American flag. The bear was on skis, he was in a tuxedo holding a martini, and his hands tucked into a pair of jeans. It was almost as the bear had a story of his own. This sweater is so iconic it sold in a solid week. Ralph Lauren always wanted to help people, either supporting their self-esteem or making them have the high-end look. In 2008 and 2012, Lauren designed the Olympic uniforms. He also in 2006 redesigned the uniforms for the ball boys and girls for the US Open and Wimbledon. “These events have enabled the brand to represent the American look on a world stage and incorporate some of the preppy design elements Polo Ralph Lauren is known for”(Thomas). Lauren’s idea was to try to design as many outfits as he could so that his preppy style would be known for. Known that he’s designed all these events, he is well known for the preppy look. His style is not just in sports but his preppy style has influenced a lot of people to incorporate it into their daily outfits.

Lauren’s clothes are not just for everyday wear, they are also for high fashion. “It also participates frequently in prestigious fashion shows like the New York Fashion Show and Milan Fashion Week (martin roll)”. Everyone knows Ralph Lauren makes affordable clothes but he also makes them for the stars. These clothes are specifically for the runway shows and the red carpets. He creates clothes that are heightened version of his aesthetic. These clothes are typically of higher quality but are more flashy. Celebrities like Lupita Nyongo, Blake Lively, Emma Watson and so much more wear his beautiful gowns to award shows and elegant events.

 The stars often go to him for gowns because of his chic and classic style. Emma Watson wore a beautiful white dress that was elegant yet classy. Blake Lively worn one of his collections to the red carpet. She wore a tailored blush pink suite. Lastly, Lupita Nyong’o wore the most memorable red dress at the red carpet. The clothes are a staple. They are meaningful and have power. Ever since the beginning, Lauren has grown his love for fashion. Lauren has made a big change in his life, starting off with the neckties and branding is own business. Lauren had a big dream, not for himself but to help others achieve the “American Dream”. Once Lauren created his first short sleeve shirt, his brand became national. Everyone wanted to have one. 

His clothes are specialized to help performance in sports but to also make it so you can wear it for everyday use. Not only does he make high-end fashion for the stars and for the wealthy, but he also makes clothes affordable for people who want to look “expensive”. The reason I love Ralph Lauren clothes so much is because of his timeless and affordable look that his clothes will alway portray. Ralph Lauren only keeps getting better.    

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