Ralph Lauren Corporation is an American fashion company producing products ranging from the mid-range to the luxury segments. They are known for the clothing, marketing and distribution of products in four categories: apparel, home, accessories, and fragrances. The Company's brands include the mid-range Chaps brand, to the sub-premium Lauren Ralph Lauren brand, to the premium Polo Ralph Lauren, Double RL, Ralph Lauren Childrenswear, Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren, and Club Monaco brands, up to the full luxury Ralph Lauren Purple Label and Ralph Lauren Collection brands. Ralph Lauren Corporation is an American, publicly traded holding company headquartered in New York City, and founded in 1967 by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren.
Ralph Lauren was one of several design leaders raised in the Jewish community in the Bronx, along with Calvin Klein and Robert Denning.
Lauren started The Ralph Lauren Corporation in 1967 with men's ties. At 28 years-old, Lauren worked for the tie manufacturer Beau Brummell. He persuaded the company's president to let him start his own line. Drawing on his interests in sports, Lauren named his first full line of menswear "Polo" in 1968. He worked out of a single "drawer" from a showroom in the Empire State Building and made deliveries to stores himself.
By 1969, the Manhattan department store Bloomingdale's sold Lauren's men line exclusively. It was the first time that Bloomingdale's had given a designer his own in-store shop. In 1971, Ralph Lauren Corporation launched a line of tailored shirts for women, which introduced the Polo player emblem, appearing on the shirt cuff. The first full women's collection was launched the following year.
1972 marked the opening of Ralph Lauren's store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, his first freestanding store. In 1972, Lauren released a short-sleeve cotton shirt in 24 colors. This design, emblazoned with the company's famed logo—that of a polo player, created by tennis pro René Lacoste—became the brand’s signature look. In 1977 Ralph Lauren Corporation introduced a signature cotton mesh polo shirt in various colours, featuring the polo player logo on the chest.
In 1974, Ralph Lauren outfitted the male cast of The Great Gatsby in costumes chosen from his Polo line - a 1920s-style series of men's suits and sweaters, except for the pink suit which Lauren designed especially for Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby. In 1977, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen wore Lauren's clothes in the Oscar-winning film, Annie Hall.
In 1978, the first Ralph Lauren fragrances, produced by Warner-Lauren, Ltd were launched at Bloomingdale's. Lauren for women, and Polo the men's cologne. This was the first time that a designer introduced two fragrances – one for men and one for women – simultaneously.
The company entered the European market, and went international, in 1981 with the opening of the first freestanding store in New Bond Street in the West End of London, England. Lauren opened his first flagship in the Rhinelander mansion, on Madison Avenue and 72nd Street in New York City in 1986. On June 12, 1997, the company becomes a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
The 98-seat restaurant, RL, opened in March 1999 in Chicago adjacent to its largest and world flagship Ralph Lauren store at the corner of Chicago and Michigan Avenues on the Magnificent Mile. It was followed by the opening of two additional restaurants – Ralph's at 173 Boulevard Saint Germain Paris store in 2010 and The Polo Bar at Polo's store in New York in 2015.
The company launched its website and online shop in 2000 as polo.com by RL Media (a cooperation between Ralph Lauren and NBC). In 2007, Ralph Lauren Corporation acquired the NBC share of RL Media and the website was relaunched as ralphlauren.com. In September 2015, it was announced that Stefan Larsson would replace the company's founder, Ralph Lauren, as CEO in November. Lauren stayed on as executive chairman and chief creative officer.
In February 2017 it was announced that Larsson had agreed to leave his position as CEO effective May 1, 2017 due to differences with Lauren. On May 17, 2017, Ralph Lauren named Patrice Louvet President and Chief Executive Officer. Louvet most recently served as Group President, Global Beauty at Procter & Gamble (P&G). He took over on July 17, 2017.
In October 2020, Ralph Lauren Corporation announced that it would transition its Chaps brand to a fully licensed business model to focus on its core brands, reduce its direct exposure to the North American department store channel, and setting up the Chaps brand to be nurtured with an experienced partner. Also in October, Ralph Lauren Corporation has appointed former Obama administration consultant Valerie Jarrett to the board of directors.