Fashion trends come and go, but there's one classic American brand that withstands the test of time: Ralph Lauren. Smartly designed and based on the idyllic image of sporty, upper-class East Coast youth, Ralph Lauren's label has thrived as one of the world's most successful fashion empires for more than 40 years. Born as Ralph Lifshitz into a middle-class Jewish family in the Bronx in 1939 (he changed his name in the '50s), Lauren grew up enamored with the American dream. Always intent on looking sharp, he worked in a department store while in high school, using his earnings to purchase expensive clothes. After graduation, he worked as a salesman while attending night school to study business, forgoing his degree. Instead, Lauren began his label in 1967 by designing ties that were wider and more colorful than what was currently in fashion, and they quickly became popular. Shortly thereafter, Lauren started a menswear line that focused on effortless yet preppy pieces, and in 1971 he launched a women's label with the same premise. Lauren's dynasty now consists of sportswear as well as high-end garments and home furnishings but with a fortune valued around $5.8 billion, there's no telling what this American fashion aficionado will accomplish next.
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