Ralph Lauren Saddles Up With Oprah
The interview commenced with by diving into Ralph’s design history…
Ralph Lauren started his company in 1967 and he wasn’t designing Polo shirts like everyone thinks, he began with a classic tie. When he told his boss at the time that he wanted to persue creating ties he was told, “the world isn’t ready for Ralph Lauren.” I bet that guy feels pretty silly now, because at 71 Ralph Lauren is still going strong with 452 stores in 80 countries around the globe–I’d say the world loves Ralph Lauren.
Lauren attempted to sell his ties to Bloomingdale’s, but was unsuccessful at first. The retailer wanted to change the tie’s look and then sell it under the retailer’s own name–an offer Lauren obviously never went for. Low and behold, six months later Bloomingdales came crawling back saying that they would sell the unique ties in their store. Although, the brand later copied the style and then sold them right next to Lauren’s original ties…This was a disappointment for Lauren, who was told by none other than a Bloomingdale’s employee that the difference between his ties and the copied ones was love-something Lauren continues to have plenty of with regards to his designs.
Fashion is “fickle” according to Oprah, so she inquired about what allows him stay consistent?
Lauren replied that he’s scared after the close of each season and the next one on his mind when it comes to “creating something from nothing again. The way I work, I feel like I’m doing movies. I’m not a cowboy, but I love the west.” The designer has a clear consistent vision on things and tells stories through his creations. Ralph’s motto on clothing? “It gets better with age.”
On the progression of expanding the Ralph Lauren brand from clothing to home goods?
“I’m not about fashion, I’m about living and that’s been my whole career” Lauren responded. His vast brand extensions all spawned from different periods in his life. When he purchased his ranch, he decided to move into home goods and when his wife Ricky gave birth to their children, expanding to a children’s line was only natural.
Ralph Lauren with his family and on his daughter’s upcoming wedding…
When asked what he’s most proud of, he immediately proclaimed, “I’m most proud of my family.” Lauren has been married for 46 years to his lovely wife, Ricky. Oprah asked her, “Do you feel like you’re living in a Ralph Lauren ad?” She spoke graciously and told Oprah, “I don’t think about it, but I guess we are…”
Ralph’s three children, Andrew (42) a film producer, David (39) Executive VP of advertising, marketing, and corporate communications for Ralph Lauren, and Dylan (37) owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar, all joined for the last segment of the interview.
Dylan will be walking down the aisle this June and her dress was of course designed by her father. “I had to do something that was better than ever before. Give her something amazing” Lauren said of the most important dress he’ll ever design. To which Dylan replied, “I may not take off the dress after the wedding, I may sleep in it, I may wear it the next day” on her adoration of the gorgeous gown (which we can’t wait to see a glimpse of).
So there you have it, an exclusive peek inside one of America’s heritage brands, the humble creative mind and the family dynamic that continue to inspire the designer, who clearly isn’t retiring anytime soon.