Thank You, Mr. Lauren, For All That You Do
With an iconic career dating back to 1967, the 75 year-old namesake and Founder of the Ralph Lauren empire of clothing, fragrances and accessories, is stepping down from his position as CEO.
To many interested in the fashion industry, this news evokes emotion. Many fans and followers of the legendary brand of American luxury and glamour created by Lauren through his consistently charming products are upset to hear that Lauren will no longer be leading the company. Many people wonder in what direction former Old Navy President, Stefan Larsson will take the brand and if the quality and timeless style of the Ralph Lauren merchandise will change. Others are upset when they realize that Lauren’s retirement marks their age as well. Personally, although I do find it sad that the icon is leaving his brand, I am genuinely happy for Mr. Lauren, who has made much more of an impact in the world than as just the billionaire iconic designer behind the namesake empire.
Thanks to Gioia Diliberto’s beautifully detailed biography, Diane Von Furstenburg: A Life Unwrapped, I was also able to gain insight into the life of some designers who liked to be kept out of the spotlight, including Mr. Lauren. I learned that not only had Lauren created perhaps the most classic and iconic American luxury clothing, fragrance and home decor empire, but he has also fought and survived a brain tumor. Through a conversation about his symptoms, Lauren basically saved the life of Diane Von Furstenburg who then realized that she was feeling the same things, and was soon after diagnosed with a brain tumor as well. Since his bout with cancer and meeting others going through the same scary journey to recovery, Lauren has continued to donate generously to cancer research and awareness throughout the world.
Lauren rarely speaks about his philanthropic endeavors, and has actually told the press that he hates being called a “philanthropist,” so for what it’s worth, Mr. Lauren a very good person. After he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1987, he became more involved with giving to cancer research and awareness. Lauren created the Pink Pony Fund, which is a fabulous collection of clothing, fragrances and accessories that feature the iconic RL pony logo in pink, and gives back up to 25% of the cost of each item to international charity organizations. (Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when could be a better time to contribute to the Pink Pony Fund and raise awareness with Pink Pony merchandise?!) Additionally, partnering with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Lauren established the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem, New York. This center has hitherto cared for about 100,000 patients, including 13,000 uninsured individuals from the 5 New York City boroughs.
Although Mr. Lauren has stepped down as CEO of Ralph Lauren, he will most certainly still be involved with the brand, calling the change more of a “partnership” than a retirement. He will also be continuing with his generosity towards causes such as cancer research and awareness, while enjoying the retirement that he and his family deserve. He is truly an icon for American fashion and creating a meaningful brand. He is the embodiment of Ralph Lauren; classy, successful and benevolent.
Thank you, Mr. Lauren, for all you have done and continue to do.
P.S. Fun fact! I had the pleasure of meeting Ralph Lauren’s son, Andrew Lauren, at the launch of his AVENUE cover last fall. Here’s a photo from the event (above).
Stay Classy! xx