Ralph Lauren to Step Down after Almost 40 Years
Ralph Lauren, the iconic American designer, announced his decision on 30th September 2015 to step down from his post as head of the fashion empire he founded nearly 40 years ago. Charting a new course to success at Ralph Lauren from November will be Stefan Larsson, the Swedish former H&M executive and president of the Old Navy clothing and accessories brand, owned by the multinational corporation Gap Inc. According to the New York Times, this is a timely move by the Ralph Lauren Company, as they are seeking to put their financial house back in good order after a tough trading period. Due to the recent constraints of a strong dollar and intense competition in the luxury goods arena, earnings have been weakened this year at the $7.5bn upmarket apparel retailer. Nevertheless, Lauren’s continuous success over almost four decades as a visionary multi-award-winning entrepreneur has been undeniably phenomenal.
Heritage: Lauren’s Humble Career Beginnings
During his time at the top, Lauren pioneered a groundbreaking exploration of the world of haute couture, concluding with recent adventurous expansions into the lucrative spheres of homeware, hospitality and fragrance brands. He has certainly enjoyed an illustrious career that is every aspiring fashion designer’s fantasy. Famous for his colourful contemporary twists on tweed, velvet, chiffon and silk on the shirts, neckties and knitted sweaters of traditional Ivy League college style, his opulent and genteel designs soon became popular American wardrobe staples. Despite such emphasis on affluent luxury, Lauren himself had no formal training as a designer and came from humble working-class Jewish roots in the Bronx. After studying business at Baruch College in Manhattan for two years and completing another two years of service in the US army, he finally turned his attentions to fashion. From the bottom rung of the ladder he started out as an unambitious salesman, given the task of creating a range of neckties for Brooks Brothers. Thanks to some good fortune at Beau Brummell, his meteoric rise to stardom was launched alongside his own fashion line.
Re-Shaping the Fashion Industry: Lauren’s Secret to Success
Ralph Lauren’s career-defining moments have paved the way for the ultimate makeover of the fashion industry. From his classic tailored suits for women to his Wild West fringed jackets, aged denim and Polo logo sports clothes, Lauren’s formula for success lies in his application of a simple all-American aesthetic to the re-invention of any genre of dress. His ability to translate this into affordable styles for all is his quintessential motif, which has revived fashion traditions for the modern era whilst inspiring the next generation of designers to follow his lead.
Giving Back: Lauren’s Philanthropic Legacy
One of Lauren’s most noteworthy achievements that may supersede his immense contribution to fashion is his charitable Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, borne out of the icon’s strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Creating a plethora of jobs and volunteering opportunities to serve underprivileged American communities, his most remarkable masterpiece has helped to remodel many other sectors, particularly education and healthcare. Initiatives such as the Pink Pony Cancer Care Fund, the Children’s Literacy Program and Habitat for Living are just a few of the many and varied acts of philanthropic kindness Ralph Lauren is certain to be even more committed to throughout his well-deserved retirement.