The Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation (RL) has become one of the best-known fashion design and licensing houses in the world. Founded by American designer Ralph Lauren in the late 1960s, the company boomed in the 1980s as Laurenâ€™s designs came to be associated with a sophisticated and distinctly American attitude. The companyâ€™s first products were wide ties, but it soon designed and manufactured an entire line of menswear before entering the more lucrative womenâ€™s fashion market as a designer and licenser. By the 1980s, the Polo/Ralph Lauren name helped sell a wide array of products, including fragrances and accessories for men and women, clothing for young boys and infants, and a variety of housewares, shoes, furs, jewelry, leather goods, hats, and eyewear. Menswear accounted for 42 percent of 2003 sales of $2.44 billion. Womenswear was the next largest segment (25 percent), followed by fragrances, accessories, childrenâ€™s, and home. Brands include Polo, Lauren, Chaps, and Club Monaco. The company licenses nearly 300 manufacturers and 100 retail outlets around the world. RL also runs 240 of its own stores in the United States.
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