Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is an American brand founded in 1967 by fashion designer, Ralph Lauren. They produce and market: apparel, home, accessories, and fragrances.

Index

  1. The Origins
  2. First Collection
  3. The Style
  4. Expansion of the Brand
  5. Ralph Lauren in the Cinema
  6. Awards & Donations
  7. The Financial Situation
  8. The Recent Year’s

The Origins

Ralph Lipschitz (1939). American designer, born in Bronx, New York. Since his childhood, Ralph Lauren, had shown great passion and love towards the industry of fashion, which supported his career’s paths. He learned the profession by working in the field between 1956 and 1966. His job titles include shop assistant, buyer, and agent in several department stores in New York, including the Alexander stores, Allied stores, Bloomingdale’s, Brooks Brothers, and Rivetz in Boston. Also, he took evening courses in business management at City College in New York.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren 1971 Working is his Office
Ralph Lauren (1971) Working is his Office

First Collection

In 1967 designed and handmade a professional tie collection. He innovated the wide tie style, named “Polo” for Beau Brummel. The collection was a huge success and a year later he established the independent brand, Polo by Ralph Lauren, which made its début with a tailored menswear collection.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren First Tie Collection Style
Ralph Lauren First Tie Collection Style

The Style

Since starting out, his style has interpreted the past with a touch of romanticism, blending the traditions of the English aristocracy, above all, the impeccable Duke of Windsor, with the stars of old Hollywood, such as Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. Also, he designs with thoughts such as sports, African safaris, and vacations in New England. Ralph Lauren was able to expand his design to a full menswear line, and was awarded the City Award for his men’s designs. His style was highly influenced by his dream of living as an American high ivy-league society where classic, elegant, and a smart look were most important.

He says: “My purpose in fashion is to achieve the dream of dreams: the most beautiful reality that one can imagine.”

In this manner he has created a style that is by now recognized as typically American. His style is appreciated all over the world by those looking for a slice of the American Dream.

Expansion of the Brand

In 1971 he launched his first womenswear collection and introduced the famous logo of the polo player into knitwear. That same year, Lauren opened his first boutique in Beverly Hills, and a corner space in Bloomingdale’s, New York. The first international store opened in London in 1981 and by then there were about 100 around the world. The New York showroom in the former Rhinelander mansion in Madison Avenue opened in 1986. The store mirrors his way of thinking about fashion and life, proposing an eternal elegance and a very high, timeless quality.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren First Collection of Fitted Shirt's
Ralph Lauren First Collection of Fitted Shirt’s

By the 1990s, Ralph Lauren had about 20 clothing lines for men, women, teenagers, and children. Also, several fragrances and the line of household items are successful. Several lines of accessories are produced under license.

Ralph Lauren in the Cinema

He has also designed several costumes for the cinema. In 1973 he clothed Robert Redford in the movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In 1977 he launched a new fashion when he dressed Diane Keaton in men’s clothes in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall: jackets and pants in soft tweeds, shirt and tie, waistcoat and felt hats, everything assembled in a totally new ironic and sensual way. The success did not stop but was continuously built with extending products such as fragrance in 1978 up until today and different lines such as of Polo Sport in 1992, Purple Label in 1995, and Lauren Ralph Lauren in 1996. Ralph Lauren did not stop there, he also started reaching out different market such as restaurants and bars that were opened in 1999 at Chicago and other major places in the coming years such as Paris (2010) and New York (2015).

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Dressed Diane Keaton in Annie Hall
Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Dressed Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (Photo by Moviestore Collection)

Awards & Donations

The list of prizes and awards he has won is extremely long, including an ad honorem degree in Classical Literature from Brandeis University in 1996. Also, some of his creations are in the permanent collection of New York’s Fashion Institute. Later, in 1983 a retrospective of his work was held in the Denver Art Museum in Colorado. Over the years he made significant donations to humanitarian causes, for example, research into cancer and Aids. In 1998 he offered $13 million for the restoration of the first American flag, the original star-spangled banner. The company was quoted on the New York Stock Exchange in 1997. Two years later Ralph Lauren bought Club Monaco, Canadian traders in retail fashion, for $52.5 million, making its own name as one of the international powers in the field of prêt-à-porter.

In January of 2000, the American company bought the licensee company for Europe, Poloco of Paris, for $200 million. Also, with the development of technology, Ralph Lauren kept his positioning by launching official web site in 2000. In August 2001, Lillian Wang von Stauffenberg and Lauren DuPont became the new designers for the women’s collection.

During the first half of the year the company had a turnover of $898.3 million, an increase of 3.8% compared to 2000. Net profits amounted to $125.1 million. The multinational had 231 stores worldwide. In the United States sales represented 78.1% of the total; in Japan and Europe, respectively, 10% and 7.3%. The clothes and shoes bearing the Ralph Lauren brand name were mostly manufactured in Italy. As of 2001, global sales reached a level of $2.6 billion.

In 2001 the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation was founded and for breast cancer awareness Ralph Lauren launched the Pink Pony initiative to help raise awareness. In the spring 2002 fashion show models were wearing the Pink Pony T-Shirt, which became a symbol of the campaign.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Tee Spring 2002 Runway Show
Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Tee Spring 2002 Runway Show

The Financial Situation

February of 2002 For the first time the group presented its men’s collection in Milan, in its headquarters at 27 Via San Barnaba (designed by the architect Mino Fiocchi). It is an exact reproduction of the designer’s house. Later in December, after 25 years of a license agreement with Seibu, Ralph Lauren took back control in Japan, acquiring 50% of the company operating under the general license. The total investment amounted to $70 million.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Flagship in Milan on 27 Via San Barnaba
Ralph Lauren Flagship in Milan on 27 Via San Barnaba

In January 2003 Ralph Lauren moved store locations in Milan and chose Via Montenapoleone for his first own-brand boutique in Milan. The store opened in Fall 2004. With more than 20 collections, 265 stores all over the world, and a retail value of $8 billion, Polo Ralph Lauren aimed at reaching, in the next five years, a turnover of $1 billion in the European continent alone.

The same year, the designer launches the Rugby line, a complete collection for teenagers aged 16 to 25. The line obviously inspires the same sport. In October, he opened his first Rugby store in Boston. In 2005, sales grew around 38%. There were notable increase in profits, especially in the third and the last quarter of 2004. And the new year begins with an increase of receipts, rising to $74.8 million, over the $35.4 million of the year before.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Rugby Line
Ralph Lauren Rugby Line

In 2006, Ralph Lauren opened its largest shop in Omotesando, Tokyo, 2230 square meters of Ralph Lauren’s entire world show. In 2007, two single monarchs were opened in Moscow. In 2008, once again Ralph Lauren is confirmed as the official sponsor of Wimbledon, the most exclusive tennis tournament in the world, and dedicates a collection to this event.

The Recent Year’s

To enrich the brand luxury positioning they underwent several collaborations and brand extensions. In 2007 Ralph Lauren decided to reach the industry of jewelry and accessories by partnering with Swiss Luxury Goods Group and the partnership still exists today.  Another partnering was with J.C. Penney for launching American Living for Ralph Lauren home collection. However, this collaboration did not last long and ended by 2012. Also, Ralph Lauren opened the sophisticated line called Black Label in 2009 and then reaching out the kid’s section through the “Pink Pony” collection in the same year as well. For the women’s line, in 2010, the brand started to launch the line Lauren’s Handbags and Accessories. Later, in 2012 the Rugby line, which started in 2005, is officially discontinued.

The latest highlight was the Ricky Bag in 2016, which was inspired from his wife. The bag had a discreet rechargeable battery to power the internal LED light and also a USB port to charge mobile devices. Due to the unique design, this collection also was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Ricky Bag
the Iconic Ricky Bag

At the end of 2015, Ralph Lauren officially stepped down as CEO, but will remain executive chairman and chief creative director. Stefan Larsson, a Swedish born previous executive of Old Navy and Gap, took Lauren’s position as CEO. Unfortunately, after a year, Larsson stepped down after a disagreement with Lauren on how to revive the brand in the new era. Currently, Ralph Lauren is looking for a CEO.

Through the year Ralph Lauren never stopped envisioning future. In 2016 during New York fashion week they partnered with Periscope, Twitter’s livestream app, creating the first livestream of the luxury’s runway show in Manhattan and streamed on a billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus and @RalphLauren Periscope account. With continuous expansion of stores and products’ development, Ralph Lauren currently has more than 500 directly operated stores worldwide and international licensing partners around the world.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Current 2017 Campaign
Current 2017 Campaign

Since the brand’s early age, it has been trusted to become the official outfitter of U.S. Olympic Team for almost every season of the competitions. He has also designed suits for government officials. In the 2016 US elections he designed outfits for both Democrats and Republicans during the campaign and inauguration.

Raf Simons

Raf Simons (1968). Belgian fashion designer who launched his personal fashion line in 2005. Then, later became creative director of Jil Sander, Dior, then Calvin Klein.

Index

  1. The Origin
  2. Exhibitions
  3. The Legacy
  4. Bomber Jacket
  5. Summer 2016: Creative Director of Calvin Klein
  6. CFDA 2017 Designer of the Year

The Origin

Raf Simons (1968). Belgian fashion designer who grew up on the Belgian-Dutch border and studied industrial design in Genk. He started as a furniture designer in 1991 for the design studio of Walter Van Beirendonck in Antwerp.

From here, Walter taught him the basics of the trade, and meet Linda Loppa, director of the Royal Académie des Arts, which changed his life. With Linda’s father, who is a well-known dressmaker in Belgium, he produced his first signed collection. Later, in 1995 he launched his brand and started to create history.

Exhibitions

In January 2003, with Francesco Bonami, Simons curated the exhibition Il Quarto Sesso (The Fourth Sex) about the excesses of adolescence. It was presented as part of the Pitti Immagine Discovery programme.

Then, in June 2005, Simons celebrated ten years in business with a runway event, the video installation Repeat and the monograph Raf Simons Redux at the 68th Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence.

The Legacy

In 2005 The designer presents his new second line, Raf by Raf Simons. With this collection, the designer returns to the distinctive traits of his style in a new and modern key. A sort of basic at lower prices than his first line.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Raf Simons Last Jil Sanders Show
Last Jil Sanders Show

Later, in July, Simons was appointed creative director of Jil Sander and planned to make his debut in January 2006 with his first menswear collection. He took over from Jil Sander after the falling out between the designer and the Prada Group, who owns the company. 2012 was the end of his reign at Jil Sander, and he presented his last collection that left the audience crying and himself very emotional. Then, he pressed on and officially became the creative director of Dior.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Raf Simons Emotional at Last Jil Sanders Show
Emotional at Last Jil Sanders Show

Also a special moment, is the debut of his first Dior collection. He mesmerized the audience with an air of beauty that only the combination of Raf Simons and Dior could bring along. In the beautiful film, Dior and I, there is beautiful moment when he cries on the terrace with his right hand, Pieter Mulier, as he realizes that he is about to showcase his first Dior haute couture show. The whole film is a feast of love, dedication, humility, and respect for the petites mains of the house.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Raf Simons First Dior Haute Couture ShowFirst Dior Haute Couture Show

Raf Simons legacy, especially for his men’s label, along with Jil Sanders and Christian Dior, is nothing but magical. While each brand had a very distinct identity, values, and personality, Simons was metamorphosing from a rebellious youthfulness, to sharp minimalism, and finally romantic perfectionism at Dior.

Summer 2016: Creative Director of Calvin Klein

In summer 2016 it was officially announced that Raf Simons left Dior and became the new creative director of American fashion brand, Calvin Klein. He explains why he left Dior for Calvin Klein,

“To be really honest, the attraction and the reason why I came to Calvin is because it has the highest and the lowest and everything in between, so you can reach out to everybody. Which, in high fashion, is not always easy. It was not something that was possible at Dior, for example. It is possible at Calvin Klein.”

Mame Fashion Dictionary Raf Simons First Calvin Klein CollectionFirst Calvin Klein Collection

CFDA 2017 Designer of the Year

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Raf Simons CFDA Award
Designer of the Year at CFDA Fashion Awards

In June of 2017 Raf Simons became the second designer in the history of American fashion to win Designer of the year at the CFDA awards for both the men’s and womenswear categories.

Simons is only second to Calvin Klein, the designer and fashion house that Simons reins as the chief creative officer, who had the same double honor in 1993. The two men won the award at almost the same age; Klein at 51 and Simons at 49 years old.

Simons big win is quite the welcome from the American Fashion Elite. The award comes at a time where his first Calvin Klein collection, due the fall of 2017, is the most anticipated collection of all fashion houses. The fashion world is anxious to see Simons vision for Calvin Klein.