Founded in 1967 by Bronx-born Ralph Lifshitz, Polo Ralph Lauren has dressed everyone from presidents to Olympians to your favorite rappers. Except, said rappers weren’t getting seeded or personally styled by the company up until more recently.
Hip-hop has served as a pro bono marketing agency for the billion-dollar fashion house for nearly three decades, but not anymore. 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.
It took hip-hop a long time to get here, though. What started out in the streets of New York by the Lo-Lifes—a Brooklyn street crew whose preferred uniform was Polo—eventually seeped into the region’s hip-hop scene, turning a thing like Raekwon wearing a Snow Beach pullover jacket in the “Can It Be All So Simple” video into an unforgettable moment. Rap took something that was made for upper class preppy white kids and made it their own. "Our culture is based on taking things that aren’t meant for us or weren’t intended for us and making it ours,” as Just Blaze puts it.
With music provided by Thelonious Martin and featuring Raekwon, Tyson Beckford Just Blaze, Big Boi, 2 Chainz, ASAP Ferg, 88-Keys, Young Dro, Daymond John, Dapper Dan, Fonzworth Bentley, Retch, Thirstin Howl the 3rd, and other original Lo-Life members, this documentary explores that juxtaposition. Watch Horse Power above to learn about hip-hop’s love affair with Polo Ralph Lauren.