'Superfans' is a three-part series that shines a light on life-long Polo Ralph Lauren collectors around the world. First, we met Tokyo barber Dak Nishiyama. now, we head to New York.
Polo Ralph Lauren wouldn’t be what it is today without New York, and New York fashion wouldn’t be what is without Ralph Lauren. The two’s histories are indelibly intertwined to the point that the iconic American brand is woven into the city’s fashion fabric like nowhere else in the world.
Nacio, aka Starker Ltd, is a New York-based artist and rapper and part of the RRR Music Group. He’s also a lifelong Polo collector. “In New York City, Ralph Lauren is always going to be a staple," he says. "I've worn my items outside to take the bus and bus drivers have stopped me and told me, ‘do I know what I'm wearing?’ They used to have that in high school. Train conductors, done stop the train and asked me if I was selling the jacket. These are essential workers in New York City, and even they know what Polo means.”
Ralph Lauren is now a global mega-brand and its polo shirts have been adopted by all walks of life. Loved both for what they represent – a touch of cool, classic Americana – but also for the individual associations that have been assigned to them over time. Of all the subcultures that have adopted Polo Ralph Lauren, none have been quite as pivotal as New York hip hop and street culture in the ‘90s, and the infamous lo-lifes, who broke the elitist associations attached to the brand and helped perpetuate its cool image. By showing how versatile and desirable Polo Ralph Lauren was, they opened it up to subcultures, movements, and tiers of society that had nothing to do with the Ivy League.
Polo will always be timeless because Polo's a part of inner-city New York culture. When you see people put it on a certain way, it just has this certain allure to it. It's almost like the closest thing to a time machine.
Growing up in New York, the polo player was one of the first brand insignia that Nacio became familiar with. “I first discovered the brand Ralph Lauren as a kid, running around in Macy's with my mother, but my first real memory of Ralph Lauren was going into the shopping area over on Fulton Street, and seeing young kids running around with it and bunches just doing it crazy with all types of logos and medallions on the shirts. Crests, things that I had never seen before.”
His fascination only grew stronger over time, and today Nacio’s apartment is chock-full of Polo Ralph Lauren shirts, windbreakers, singlets, caps, shirts – you name it, he’s probably got it. Among his collection are a number of true grails, like a Climb rugby shirt from 1993 and pieces from the early 1992 Stadium and 1993 Snow Beach collections, which could change hands today for hundreds of dollars (if not more). But for Nacio like most devoted collectors, the value of these garments is secondary to what they represent.
“My relationship with Ralph Lauren has changed over the years in a way that instead of being a more of a consumer about it, in a disposable way, that I buy a t-shirt and maybe get rid of it, I have these items and I'm probably going to have them for the rest of my life.”
Stay tuned for the next chapters of our Polo Ralph Lauren Superfans series. In the meantime, discover the Polo Shirt collection.