The Ralph Lauren Corporation started in 1967 with men’s ties. At 28 years-old, Lauren worked for the tie manufacturer, Beau Brummell. At that time, he persuaded the company's president to let him start his own line. Drawing on his interests in sports, Ralph Lauren names his first full line of menswear ‘Polo’ in 1968. He works out of a single "drawer" from a showroom in the Empire State Building and makes deliveries to stores himself.
By 1969, the Manhattan department store Bloomingdale’s sells Lauren’s men line exclusively. It is the first time that Bloomingdale’s has given a designer his own in-store shop. In 1971, Ralph Lauren Corporation launched a line of tailored shirts for women, which introduce the Polo player emblem to the world for the first time, appearing on the shirt’s cuff. The first full women’s collection was launched the following year.
1971 also marked the opening of Ralph Lauren’s store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. This is the first freestanding store for an American designer. 1977 Ralph Lauren Corporation introduces a signature cotton mesh Polo shirt in various colors. Featuring the polo player logo at the chest, the shirt becomes emblematic of the preppy look--one of Ralph Lauren's signature styles.
In 1974, Ralph Lauren outfitted the male cast of The Great Gatsby in costumes chosen from his Polo line a 1920s-style series of men's suits and sweaters, except for the pink suit which Lauren designed especially for Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby. In 1977, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen wear Lauren’s clothes throughout their Oscar-winning film, Annie Hall.
The first Ralph Lauren fragrances, produced by Warner-Lauren, Ltd. are first launched at Bloomingdale's. Lauren, a fragrance for women, debuts on March 12, 1978, and Polo, the men's cologne, premieres on March 26, 1978. This is the first time that a designer has introduced two fragrances – one for men and one for women – simultaneously.
The company entered the European market, and went international, in 1981 with the opening of the first freestanding store for an American designer New Bond Street in the West End of London, England. Ralph Lauren opens his first flagship in the Rhinelander mansion, on Madison Avenue and 72nd Street in New York City in 1986. On June 12, 1997, the company becomes a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
The 98-seat restaurant, RL, opens in March 1999 in a newly-constructed building adjacent to the largest Ralph Lauren store at the corner of Chicago and Michigan Avenues. It was followed by the opening of two additional restaurants – Ralph’s at 173 Boulevard Saint Germain Paris flagship store in 2010 and The Polo Bar at Polo’s flagship in New York in 2015.
The company launched its official web site, and online shop in 2000 as polo.com by RL Media (a cooperation between Ralph Lauren and NBC). In 2007, Ralph Lauren Corporation acquired the NBC share of RL Media and the web site was relaunched as ralphlauren.com.