Sunday, 23 November 2014

From Rags to Riches - Ralph Lifshitz

As the head of a a global clothing corporation and an estimated personal wealth of $7.5 million, with thousands of employees, awards, cars and properties, including a house in 5th Avenue, Ralph Lauren's (formally Ralph Lifshitz) is a physical embodiment of 'Rags to Riches', an icon of 'The American Dream'. who 'Created a brand synonymous with a superior lifestyle' 

His story, of a very similar nature to the one of Richard Hunter presented in Horatio Algers' Ragged Dick. who's concepts promote the idea, that through hard work, ambition and honesty, the acquisition of wealth, property and respectability could be accomplished. The video documentary about the rise of Ralph Lauren to become an american icon, is in many ways linked to that of Algers juvenile 'hero', a impoverish youth in a underdeveloped and challenging area of New York City (Bronx projects NYC) with an interest in self-indulgence to visit the cinema, as similarly did Dick in his visits to the Old Bowery. Ralph Lauren's passion derived from icons such as Fred Astair and Gary Grant, who's position's derived a sense of superiority and class, that was inaccessible to him at the time. 

Ralph Lauren, like that of Ragged Dick, developed his initial career with a variety of different low paid vocations. His move to educate himself at night school in salesmenship, is linked to that of Ragged Dicks educational improvement with Fosdick. After employment as a salesmen for Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren's move to self-establishment of his own brand, and faced with a challenge of naming it between 'Players' and 'Polo' he chose the idea linked to that of the latter, although ending up using his own name as the brand, as it was (the game of polo) the symbolic sport of the financial elite, a group he aspired to belong to. The concept of the 'American Dream' in that of perseverance, can be shown, in his initial dealing with New York retail giant Bloomingdales, who originally refused to buy his product (based on refusal to change name on the design), after which he gain a contract. selling designs that,
'took you to a fantasy world; to and island, the Hamptons, to the West' John Varvatos (Ralph Lauren's protege)
Ralph Lauren, developed into a chain of outlets and flagship stores  (including $30 million Rhinelander mansion , NYC),  and despite past corporate/personal financial difficulties (related to Dick's near bankruptcy by Jim Travis), health issues, and going public on the stock exchange (that nearly destroyed the company) Ralph Lauren, remains, one of America richest men, who started off selling handmade ties to schoolmates. An individual who's works and accomplishments are undeniable of the concept of 'The American Dream' and happens to have a life story very similar but that goes beyond that of Ragged Dick.

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