This month sees the debut of a new concept for Robb Report, our first Success Issue. And yes, while you could argue that everything we cover is in some way linked to success (not least the price tags, let’s be honest), the accumulation of wealth is not what is at the heart of this project.
So what, then, constitutes success, and who epitomizes it? Those I’m most intrigued by are people who do things their own way, with a vision of how they want to live their lives, an understanding of the difference they want to make, and the intellectual and creative chops to make that a reality. It’s true that, when executed well, monetary reward can be the result of such a path. But it’s rarely the starting point. So when the team and I were discussing who we wanted in this issue—men and women from different backgrounds united by truly inspiring stories and a desire to do away with orthodoxy—there was really going to be only one headliner.
Ralph Lauren has had an outsize influence on the way I’ve dressed for about two-thirds of my lifetime. Which isn’t to say that I’ve always worn Ralph Lauren or that I’ve always subscribed to his style, but when I look back, I have had his clothes in my wardrobe more consistently than any other designer’s I can think of.
I can vividly remember entering the Ralph Lauren store on New Bond Street in London for the first time: my friends and I, aged 15, all dressed in black, with ripped jeans, cowboy boots, and varying degrees of long hair. At school, our motley crew was nicknamed (disparagingly) the gothic cowboys—suffice to say, we didn’t look like anyone else in the store, be they staff or customers. I recall two things: first, the guy at the door who welcomed us in. If he was shocked by or disapproved of our appearance, he did well not to show it and smiled broadly. And second, what I would now describe as the very “Ralphness” of it: the dark-wood panels, leather armchairs, and pervading air of exclusivity and refinement.
While far from my natural environment back then, Lauren’s world was still intriguing enough to have enticed us—a bunch of wannabe punks with rock on our Walkmans (remember them?) and chains around our boots—into the store. And something must have stuck: Over the years, Polo shirts in various hues, RRL’s denim and Americana, and Purple Label’s retelling of English tailoring traditions have tracked with the evolution of my wardrobe.
For this issue, I spent time with Mr. Lauren in his office in Manhattan, full of memorabilia and awards, and we were privileged to shoot our fashion feature at his private garage in upstate New York at his invitation. There are undoubtedly bigger car collections, but are there cooler ones? Take in the world-exclusive results here.
And there are similarities—dogged determination, unflinching self-belief, all-encompassing vision, empathy, and a desire for a better world—in his story and in those of our other success honorees: serial mogul Sheila Johnson, chef and author Kwame Onwuachi, financier turned entrepreneur Marvina S. Robinson, and ingenious engineer Sampriti Bhattacharyya.
Elsewhere you’ll find plenty more exemplars of success, in different forms. There’s director and bon vivant Paul Feig, the focus of The Answers this month; another who does things his way and looks good doing it. There’s Pininfarina’s latest, the Battista, which automotive editor Viju Mathew got to take for a test-drive and which nearly blew his mind. And we visited Everest and Iceland this issue, truly awe-inspiring destinations that will humble anyone—and grant some vital perspective on the significance of our success in the context of this extraordinary world of ours.
Enjoy the issue.