When Ralph Lauren founded his world renowned fashion label, his intentions — unbeknownst to him — were quintessentially hip hop, even though hip hop itself was years away from being invented. But he did not create Polo Ralph Lauren for a group of society that he already belonged to. His aim was to fabricate something that was worn by the community he aspired to be a part of.
The aspirational approach that Lauren took to fashion is the same principle that made his label so desirable within a segment of the American population, that certainly was far from his target audience in the beginning.
“Our [hip hop] culture is based on taking things that aren’t meant for us, or weren’t intended for us, and making them ours,” Just Blaze explains in Complex’ amazingly detailed documentary Horse Power.
In the late 80s, the love affair between hip hop and the fashion label developed, whether Polo wanted it or not. And while they looked (and dressed their Polo pieces!) different from the clientele the brand originally marketed itself to, a group of Polo-obsessed youngsters from Brooklyn would not only go on to influence hip hop stars for generations to come but also create a movement of (firstly) boosters and collectors of Polo worldwide: The Lo Lifes!
As part of a five-year project, photographer Tom Gould and Lo Life founding member Thirstin Howl the 3rd have created a documentary on the group’s origins as well as the culture that surrounds it. Interviews, archival pictures, and recent portraits of key players make up Bury Me With The Lo On, the first-ever book on the crew’s original members and inventors of the head-to-toe Polo look.
In addition, the eponymous film is a must-watch for everyone who is interested in what today is considered the inseparable conjunction between Polo Ralph Lauren and the hip hop community.
Nothing might be as symbolic of the entangled relationship between the world’s most famous (?) horsy and the notoriety it received from rap music as Raekwon rocking the infamous Snow Beach jacket in Wu-Tang’s Can It Be All So Simple video. But the gravitas the brand has carried to this day is undeniable, judging by the pride current rappers from Just Blaze to ASAP Ferg and more take in their excessive Polo collections.
For the Lo Lifes, their passion for their brand of choice is just as timeless as the designs that made them fall in love with Polo in the first place. However, when it comes to their collections, they still get competitive.
Luckily, Polo Ralph Lauren has meanwhile embraced the undeniable audience it has within the hip hop community, leading to re-releases of the infamous Stadium collection as well as other sought-after Polo Sport pieces. Whether you’re looking to go head-to-toe like a true Lo Life, you want to stock up on Polo essentials (drawers check!) or you simply would like to browse the latest Polo Sport collection, BSTN has got you covered!