Ralph Lauren After 50+ Years

January 29, 2020


I sometimes think that I’ve been sleeping on Ralph Lauren’s bedding, wearing his apparel and buying his shirts for hubby – my entire life. I don’t know how he does it, but I’ve never bought a single thing of his that I didn’t love. He hits it out of the park every time.

At one point in an article that ran in Vogue’s October 2019 issue he says, “I love timelessness. I’ve always liked things that get better with age.” (He should visit me sometime.) The roots of his inspirations are: classic movies, vintage cars and style vanguards such as Frank Sinatra. “There’s a romance to Ralph,” says Vera Wang, who worked as a design director for Lauren in the late 1980s before launching her own brand. “When you look at the breadth of what he’s done, there has to be this sense of romance about life.”

From the top: Lauren taking his runway bow in 1990; with his sons Andrew (left) and David in 1972 and wearing denim in 1978 – Photos courtesy of Elle magazine, November 2019

SPEAKING OF CLASSIC MOVIES I won’t even think about telling you the number of times I’ve watched Casablanca with Bogart and Bergman. Instead, let’s talk about a new feature-length documentary titled Very Ralph that appeared on HBO in November 2019. In the Vogue piece I mentioned earlier, which is expertly written by Jason Gay, the back-story to this project is discussed.

IT WAS ALMOST THREE YEARS in the making and has commentary from fellow designers such as: Calvin Klein and the late Karl Lagerfeld. It also tells the fabled story of the self-taught designer who started with neckties and – in a confrontation that’s now legendary – declined an early offer to sell them in Bloomingdale’s after the store said it wanted to alter his ties and put the store’s label on the back.

“That was the biggest moment because I walked out of the store and said to myself, ‘What have I done?’ I didn’t have a business. I was trying to build one. But I needed my own brand.” Taking this a step further, Lauren pretty much invented the whole notion of a person being a brand, with elaborate marketing campaigns that didn’t just sell products – they told stories. At the time, these were radical moves.

IT ISN’T A FASHION MOVIE it’s about a family. This project was produced and directed by Susan Lacy, an award-winning documentarian who impressed Lauren by telling him that it was going to be his picture (he had turned away many offers in the past). “I think he trusted me,” she says. “The first thing he said to me after he saw it – he was quite emotional – was ‘I could never have done what you did.’”

Ralph and his wife, Ricky married young and remain close to their children: Andrew, David and Dylan. All of them appear in the documentary. There are some never-seen-before family videos that reveal a playful father who doted on his wife and kids.

YOU CAN NOW BUY AN “EARTH POLO” made from recycled plastic bottles. The company has prioritized reaching younger customers. Lauren admires the way in which new generations are seeking brands that stand for both quality and responsibility.

The fabric for this Earth Polo shirt is made from plastic bottles – the company has pledged to use 170 million recycled plastic bottles for “Ralph Lauren” products and packaging by 2025 – this is one of the many steps it is taking to introduce eco-friendly fabrics into their production line. Said differently, “We aim to keep plastic out of the oceans and landfills for years to come.” The ad shown above is courtesy of Vogue magazine, January 2020

He has been very fortunate. He’s been married to the same lovely lady for 55 years, has a great family and, as he says, “I’ve been able to realize my dreams and that’s a wonderful thing.”

And yes, at the age of 80, he still goes to the office every day.

Shaun Nelson Henrick

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