Ralph Lauren, the designer and purveyor of a line of popular clothes that sought to capture the "spirit of the West," is born on this day in 1939, in New York.
The quintessential self-made man, Lauren was instrumental in creating a new national clothing style during the mid-1970s and 1980s with his self-consciously western "Chaps" brand. Although the Chaps line has since expanded to encompass a wide variety of casual clothes, it initially focused on products like stonewashed denim jeans and faded work shirts that Lauren deliberately designed to appear as if they were from the well-worn wardrobe of a hardworking western rancher. In 1983, Lauren expanded his western-oriented products with a complete line of home decorating items, including rugs, drapes, and linens, many of which had coordinating southwestern patterns. He even marketed a Chaps cologne for men which, in the words of one 1979 advertisement, evoked "an image of men who are real and proud" and gave the wearer a little piece of "the West you would like to feel inside of yourself."