50 years of Ralph Lauren
Mahmood Hossain

Just last week Ralph Lauren stepped down as CEO of his own company

His vision and creation was the epitome of classic Americana, giving away to some iconic signatures in fashion. It’s no secret that the army of Ivy League graduates took kindly to the way of Ralph Lauren. It was the clean-cut richness of Lauren’s aesthetics that lured the desirable, sophisticated class.

The American designer burst into the world fashion scene in 1972 with his Polo line. The classic polo shirt made the label a global powerhouse that it has become today. Let’s not get things confused. Ralph Lauren didn’t invent the polo shirt but he sure has heck owned it. When you think of a polo shirt, most likely, the first label that comes to mind is Polo by Ralph Lauren. With his signature font and polo player logo, RL became the standard of American fashion.

But the success never stopped there. Later in the 90s, his Teddy Bear t-shirts was a surprising hit with the Hip Hop community. Onlookers were baffled to why these popular rappers and R&B artists were embracing these ultra-preppy, wardrobe essentials. That was the brilliance of the label. It wasn’t because they wanted to fit in or evolve into a higher class, it’s because they were the image of what a proper American label in fashion should have been. When you become the benchmark and a national symbol, it’s a status everyone tries to achieve.

Season by season, the standout lush colours of Ralph Lauren was unmistakable. The third most iconic piece from the label and designer where the cabled cashmere sweaters. Believe it or not, those sweaters, loved by well known public figures and royalty, were the brand’s all-time best-sellers. What will blow your mind away is the fact the sweaters, at the time, only costed $40. That’s high-street cashmere we’re talking about, folks.

Ralph Lauren is so revered in the American culture, the designer took charge in creating the most attractive olympic uniform gear anyone has ever seen. The brand has been outfitting the US Olympic team since 2008. It’s been so popular the ready-to-wear collections, spawned from the olympic style, sell out almost immediately. Not only is it about warmth and comfort, it’s got USA written all over it. Literally. Stars and stripes, the US official logo, olympic rings and the red, white and blue are combined in such a way that it can never be confused for your grandmother’s knitting job. No offense to all the lovely nanis and dadis out there. We’re just saying quality of RL is difficult to replicate.

Ralph Lauren isn’t just about sophistication, the man always had the sporty element to his designs. That’s what sold the most. There’s a certain belonging when wearing Ralph Lauren; there’s pride in the label’s identity. Another amazing trend sending piece was the brand’s striped rugby shirt. Again, the 90s called and he started a standalone Rugby line. Unfortunately, it is now defunct, but that hasn't stopped from numerous brands from taking the baton form its original appeal in the late 20th century.

Ralph Lauren has stepped down from the CEO position of the company he founded nearly 50 years ago. However, him leaving completely is out of the question. He still remains the Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer. You really didn’t think he was retiring or taking a seat on the bench for the upcoming seasons, did you? The man is the ultimate gentleman, a genius designer, motor vehicle enthusiast and an astute businessman. Before stepping down, he swooped up Old Navy’s president (and former H&M executive), Stefan Larsson to take over the CEO spot. The Swedish retail legend took H&M from obscurity to the global brand that it is now. Over 15 years and $17 billion later, alongside collaborations with Comme Des Garcons, Versace and Karl Lagerfeld, you’d think he’s the perfect man for the job.

The legacy continues, with a slight alteration. But the everlasting footprints in fashion history has been very well established by the man himself. He’s what we call in cricket, one of the best all-rounders in the game. We salute Mr Ralph Lauren, and thank him for his incredible influence in fashion and culture. 

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