A History of Polo Ralph Lauren

Aaron Lao
4 Minutes Read
Published:

Polo Ralph Lauren released its first collection of polo shirts in 1972. They would become one of the brand's most iconic products.

There’s a saying that people buy based on how something makes them feel, and Polo Ralph Lauren is the epitome of this.

Known for its luxurious clothes, the Ralph Lauren brand has stood the test of time, continuing to dominate the luxury fashion industry generation after generation.

Here, you’ll discover how the brand has grown throughout its history, from creating its first polo shirt to its later partnership with other companies.

Who is Ralph Lauren, anyway?

Ralph Lauren wearing a tuxedo and standing in front of a car

Ralph Lauren is an 84 year old American luxury fashion designer born on October 14, 1939, in the Bronx, New York City.

Ralph’s surname wasn’t always Lauren, though. It was originally Lifshitz, which he and his brother George changed after growing tired of being harassed at school.

Speaking of school, he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1957 and studied business for two years at Baruch College, New York, before dropping out.

Lauren got his first job working in the clothing industry as a sales assistant for Brooks Brothers before moving on to work for Rivetz, a necktie company.

His life changed after he worked for Beau Brummell, a tie manufacturer, where he was given the opportunity to create his own neckwear line.

Lauren was even allowed to choose a name for his new fashion brand, opting for “Polo” after his love for the sport.

Then, in 1968, he finally released his first clothing line for men, which included flannel suits and dress shirts.

Developing the Polo Ralph Lauren Brand.

The flagship Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue

In 1970, Ralph Lauren opened his first shop, a boutique in Bloomingdales, Manhattan’s bourgeois department store.

A year later, he opened his first standalone store, where he started designing clothes for women, too. It was here that he began using the iconic logo, featuring a polo player riding a horse.

After that, the brand finally released its first collection of polo shirts in 1972, one of its most iconic products.

While Ralph Lauren didn’t invent the polo shirt style, he did give it its name; up until this point, they were typically called tennis or golf shirts.

The Polo Ralph Lauren brand gained more recognition in 1974 when he created the costumes for the male cast of The Great Gatsby.

On March 12, 1978, Ralph released Lauren, his first fragrance for women. Polo, a cologone for men, also came out later in the month.

How Polo Ralph Lauren dominated the fashion industry.

A fashion and clothing store with a large Polo Ralph Lauren sign above the entrance

The brand began its global expansion in 1981 when it opened its very first international store in London, England.

Around this time, the US Polo Association (USPA) decided to branch out from being a sporting organization to also making clothes and fragrances.

In their heads, they were right in using logos and words relating to the game of polo to name their products. Ralph Lauren disagreed and sued them for trademark infringement.

The USPA lost and was prohibited from selling products containing a logo depicting the sport and even the word “polo” itself.

Anyhow, fast forward to 1991; this turned out to be a memorable year for the brand. Aside from the brand’s polo shirt, another iconic product was created: The preppy bear.

This Polo Ralph Lauren-fashioned teddy bear all started because of a gift given to Ralph Lauren, who saw an opportunity to offer the stuffed toy to customers for a limited time.

Later on, Richard Tahsin (one of the brand’s designers) brought the preppy bear back. But this time, as a design for their clothing – and as the saying goes, the rest was history!

With all the great things happening to the brand, the company finally decided to go public in 1997.

Polo Ralph Lauren’s philanthropies and partnerships.

A bottle of perfume with a pink Ralph Lauren logo on the side and the words "Pink Pony"

Entering the 21st century, Polo Ralph Lauren has made significant progress in growing their brand.

So, to give back to the community, Ralph Lauren launched the Pink Pony collection in 2000 with the intention of helping those fighting cancer.

This new brand mostly sold pink-themed clothing, and 25% of the sale price of each piece of Pink Pony clothes sold was donated to the fight against cancer.

To further develop this initiative, Polo Ralph Lauren decided to open a cancer center in New York in 2003.

Regarding its collaborations, though, the brand achieved a historic feat in 2006 when it partnered with Wimbledon, becoming the tennis tournament’s first designer brand to create its sports attire.

In addition, the brand also partnered up with Team USA in 2008 to design the national team’s Olympic and Paralympic parade uniforms.

Lastly, Polo Ralph Lauren shocked the world in 2022 as it collaborated with Fortnite to offer virtual products and Fortnite-related apparel, such as the Polo Ralph Lauren P-Wing Boots, to younger consumers.

 

As we trace back to Polo Ralph Lauren’s journey, from its humble beginnings to its status as a global fashion powerhouse, we can see how the founder’s efforts have paid off.

From its founding, Polo Ralph Lauren has always ensured that its products are the best they can be.

So, despite all the fashion trends here and there, I’m quite sure that Polo Ralph Lauren will be unshaken. I mean, it’s a classic, after all!

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About The Author

Aaron Lao
Aaron Lao

Aaron is a freelance eCommerce content writer and email marketer. He's on a mission to learn a lot about different subjects in his lifetime. When he isn't writing, expect him to work on his hobbies while documenting his progress.

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