When you think of Ralph Lauren’s brand, you most likely envision a lifestyle. From the gardens of the Hamptons to the beer-pong tables of America’s frat houses, Mr. Lauren’s iconic polo gear is more than just clothing. You might say that Mr. Lauren—outfitting society’s elite since 1967—has illustrated what rich looks like in America more than any other fashion designer. He’s not just a fashion trendsetter—he’s a sculptor of social norms.
Born in the Bronx to Polish immigrants, the business-savvy Mr. Lauren—who didn’t have an undergrad degree, let alone any training in fashion—rose swiftly to the top of the fashion world. His billions are all self-made; we’re absolutely certain that he’s inspired generations of businessmen—in the fashion industry and otherwise—to follow doggedly in his entrepreneurial footsteps.
And Mr. Lauren’s influence is also philanthropic. He helps sick people in Harlem with the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention; he gives college scholarships to children whose parents were killed on September 11; he started the Polo Fashion School to educate inner-city teens in fashion; and he sends volunteers to do charity work around the country.