Learn more about Brand Americana and how the emergence of sportswear remapped fashion today on In Vogue: The 1990s. Fashion critic Robin Givhan; Calvin Klein; David Lauren, Chief Innovation Officer at Ralph Lauren; Donna Karan; Vogue fashion director Virginia Smith; Lo-Life co founders and musicians Thirstin Howl the III and Rack Lo; and model Tyson Beckford.
Regardless of your bank balance, designer fashion, especially when logoed, signaled one’s allegiance to the high life. Thanks to the efforts of Brooklynites Thirstin Howl the III and Rack-Lo, co-founders of the Lo-life crew, Lauren’s polo shirts, which reference “the sport of kings” and evoke country manors with ivied walls, started to have something equally as elusive: street cred.
“If you look,” Howl tells Vogue, “the clothes were made for the upper-class preppy kids from Yale and Harvard, and you know some kids from the ghetto just took it, remixed it, and we made it our own.” By making-over aspirational vehicles of transformation, like the polo shirt, these young men assigned their own values to them. “We were pretty much like walking billboards,” notes Rack-Lo. But what they were selling wasn’t what was in the ads, rather they were creating new narratives and unmistakingly writing themselves into the American dream.
Kevin Garnett’s Content Cartel is partnering with Village Roadshow Television, Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions and Marc Levin’s Blowback Productions to develop Lo Lifes: Stealing The American Dream, a scripted series based on the story of the 1980s Brooklyn street crew.
The Lo Lifes formed in 1988 from the marriage of two shoplifting crews from Brooklyn: Ralphie’s Kids from Crown Heights, and Polo U.S.A. from Brownsville.
The group, co-founded by Victor “Thirstin Howl The 3rd” DeJesus, gained popularity in the late ’80s and “boosted” designer labels from Tri-state department stores and helped spark the urban fashion phenomenon. “From their creation to their global expansion, the Lo Lifes captured the genesis of the subversive hip-hop spirit in a totally original fashion and were the original influencers,” according to the producers.
Thirstin Howl III is introduced on camera through a Lo-Check; showing off his retro Polo Stadium shirt, Polo Bear gloves, Polo beanie, Polo belt, and Polo Sport underwear. He quickly explains how kids from Brooklyn boosted Polo and styled country club clothing in a way that was true to hip-hop and New York street style at the time.
Photo and Article by: Highsnobiety and Gregk Foley
What does the Lo-Life Crew stand for? At first, it stood for Polo Life, but that second syllable, Lo referred to being at the bottom, you know, down, dirty, grimy, low life. But in the new millennium, we had a transition. We turned it into love and loyalty. Myself, my frame of mind changed, my everyday activities changed, but I was surrounded by the same friends from 30 years ago.
By TheSource.com and written by SAM – @THEWRITERAU
After getting recognized as The Source Magazine’s “Unsigned Hype”, Thirstin Howl III aka the Polo Rican, who is infamous for wearing a Polo robe and slippers while doing a bid in prison, has gone on to drop 11 albums in a mixture of English and Spanish and worked with artists such as Eminem, Ol Dirty Bastard, Immortal Technique and Kool Keith. He’s also the main focal point of a new photography book called Bury Me With The Lo On shot by Tom Gould that explores the Lo-Life culture and movement.
Finally, Polo is recognizing the influence rap music has done for the brand with the 25th anniversary re-release of both its Stadium and Snowboarding collections, and placing rappers Thirstin Howl the 3rd and Meyhem Lauren in ads.
Photo and Article by: Martin Berrios and hiphopwired.com
What started as two Brooklyn boosting crews uniting over the love of getting money and Polo Ralph Lauren garments has evolved into one of Hip-Hop’s most thriving sub-cultures. Thirstin Howl the 3rd has released an official Lo Life documentary, Bury Me With The Lo On.