3. Ralph Lauren and game-changing neckties

The exterior of 109 Prince Street as seen from Greene Street.
The Ralph Lauren store at 109 Prince Street.

Born in the Bronx to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, Ralph Lauren sported both classic preppy wear and vintage clothing as he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. For college, he studied business at Baruch College near Park Avenue South. He is remembered for selling ties to his peers between lectures. Dropping out after two years, Lauren joined the army before taking a job as a salesman at Brooks Brothers.

As he rose in through the ranks of New York fashion designers, Lauren worked for Beau Brummell, a men’s clothing store in New York City. While working there, Lauren designed a line of men’s neckties. With his necktie style established — he preferred those with a wider cut — Lauren convinced Beau Brummell leaders to sell his designs in their stores. This provided the base for his brand Polo Ralph Lauren. Today, Lauren’s company makes billions annually and sells lifestyle products in five categories: apparel, accessories, home, fragrances and hospitality. Although he draws from the preppy East Coast style in his designs, he also looks toward Native American craftsmanship and the Old West dominated by cowboys.