Since its inception in 1968, Ralph Lauren has become a powerful global empire that has put its stamp on everything from tuxedos to tennis skirts. Lauren began with a handmade line of wide, colorful ties and menswear, which paved the way to launch his own in-store boutique in Bloomingdale's in 1969. The designer expanded to encompass womenswear (1971), his signature polo shirts (1972), fragrance (1978), home furnishings (1983), sportswear (1993), paint (1995), denim (1996), and even a restaurant, in Chicago in 1999. Lauren's lavish Madison Avenue flagship was built into the renovated Rhinelander mansion in 1986, a retail space that doubles as an opulent, high-end boutique and a tourist attraction. Though the label is perhaps best associated with its signature preppy polo shirts and tweed blazers, Lauren has shown range and innovation each season, from the cowboy-inspired looks of the seventies to the Santa Fe prints of the eighties to the more recent high-fashion twenties safari looks of the 2000s. The apparel is divided into a dozen lines, including the purple label for men's eveningwear and hand-tailored suiting, the black label for women's eveningwear, RLX for ski, golf, and tennis attire, and Rugby for a more youthful buyer. Today, the iconic polo emblem adorns everything from Pink Pony tees benefiting cancer research to tiny plaid high-tops for tykes and miniature polos for pets. The Ralph lifestyle has shown staggering staying power, thanks to loyal fans who ride horses, get chauffeured in Town Cars, and everything in between.
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