Exploring the Archive
A lookback at some of the most iconic pieces in the Ralph Lauren archive.
Your Favorite Designer’s Favorite Designer
We talk to some of the leading figures in fashion and streetwear to ask how Ralph Lauren wrote the rules of menswear and changed the way we think about style whether you’re uptown, downtown, or anything in-between.
Brendon BabenzienFounder of Noah
Ollie EvansFounder of Too Hot
David HellqvistDirector at DOCUMENT studios
Under the Influence
The new generation of designers following in the footsteps of the originator.
Public School NYFounded in 2008, Public School NY is rooted in its native environment. Graduates of the New York public school system and influenced by the stimuli the city feeds them every day, the label’s softly-spoken channeling of New York cool into a single, coherent voice stands on the shoulders of Ralph Lauren, who 40 years previous translated East Coast style into a sartorial language. We asked designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow about the influence Ralph Lauren has had on their design process and what makes the brand’s work so timeless. Watch the interview
Rowing BlazersAs the iconic brand of Ivy and Prep style, it’s no surprise that Ralph Lauren has resonance in University rowing culture. Jack Carlson founded his label Rowing Blazers after time spent studying a Doctorate in Philosophy at Oxford University, as well as competing with the American national rowing team in the Olympics. Launched in 2017, his brand is an authentic, modern expression of one of the cultures that informed Ralph Lauren’s iconic style, and that back-and-forth of influence and inspiration continues to this day. Watch the interview
Communities Across Cultures
Exploring the brand’s universal appeal, from the Ivy League to the streets of Brooklyn.
Take IvyConsidering the label’s deep roots in that same culture, it’s no surprise that Ralph Lauren would become so heavily associated with the culture of America’s prestigious Ivy League institutions. From the brand’s smart-casual blazers, oxford shirts and chinos, to its varsity sports references such as rugby, rowing, lacrosse and, of course, polo, the Ralph Lauren brand is a fluid amalgamation of everything we think of when we imagine the hallowed halls of America’s elite academic institutions. In fact, it’s such a compelling image that it’s inspired Ivy-led subcultures in Japan, and similar prep and varsity dress codes as far afield as the UK. Put simply, Ralph Lauren channeled references from film, music, sport, media and culture into a single, coherent language, creating a sartorial style that would come to define the very notion of elite academia. These images all appear in Teruyoshi Hayashida’s book Take Ivy, click here for more.
Bury Me With The Lo OnPerhaps one of the original great legends in streetwear lore, Lo-Life culture emerged from the neighborhoods of Brooklyn in 1988 as teenagers coming up in New York’s urban sprawl engaged in ‘healthy competition’, looking to out-flex and out-dress each other by wearing the sharpest sneakers and clothes. Far-flung from the typical leather bombers and down jackets that defined NY style at the time, the Lo-Life’s penchant for bright, colorful and ostentatious Polo gear set them apart from their peers, turning that same competition into shared passion and collective spirit. Thirty years later, that spirit has led to OG Lo-Lifes working with some of the biggest names in media, as well as giving back to their community through charity initiatives. It’s a story that encapsulates the deeper meaning behind the crew; coming together, regardless of roots, and working to raise each other up. Thirstin Howl III and photographer Tom Gould documented Lo-Life culture in their book Bury Me With The Lo On. The book introduced the culture to a broader audience and created fascination with the Ralph Lauren-obsessed individuals it depicts. Check out more from the book here.
The Dropcast Roundtable
A discussion of Ralph Lauren’s impact on street fashion & culture.
For some people, Ralph Lauren isn’t just a label – it’s a way of life.
Queens, New York CityYou might have encountered Queens rapper Meyhem Lauren through his music, or perhaps through his on-screen appearances with fellow culinaire-cum-rap extraordinaire Action Bronson. But he’s also an avid collector of classic Ralph Lauren. While his wardrobe is certainly loaded with essential pieces (such as that coveted 1992 Stadium Jacket), his archive mainly consists of pieces he would personally wear—making no secret of his penchant for all things extravagant and silk. We met up with Meyhem to check out some of his favorites from his personal collection, as well as to talk about what Ralph Lauren means to him as a brand that’s managed to capture people’s hearts and minds for 50 years. Watch the interview
Paterson, New JerseyAside from having a hand in creating some of the biggest hits of the ‘00s, from Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” to Kanye West’s “Touch The Sky,” producer Justin Smith, better known as Just Blaze, is a pretty prolific collector of Polo, going all the way back to the ‘90s. His impressive personal archive, which spans several wardrobes, features pieces from across the spectrum of Ralph Lauren’s many sublines and collections, as well as sample pieces that never even hit the production line. For Just Blaze, Ralph Lauren’s creation of aspirational clothing that made you feel like the real thing created a look that never went out of style, even as other trends came and went. Now, their reinvention of classic garments from the original collections goes to the heart of what hip-hop, bringing the brand’s timeless appeal to a new audience. Watch the interview
Love & Loyalty: The Lo‑Lifes
A portrait series of the people who made Ralph Lauren an icon of the streets.
Thirstin Howl III
Brooklyn, New York City Founder of Lo-Life, rapper, author, producer, director, actor, and hip-hop and fashion historian.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. I wanted to introduce this new frame of mind I was entering. I had suffered a lot of consequences of my actions, but they were probably the best things to happen to me. Incarceration introduced me to (Cleveland Browns running back) Jim Brown’s “Amer-I-Can Foundation for Social Change” program, and that really helped me to grow. I ended up getting a job at MTV, freelance, and that introduced me to film production. Now I’ve got people fighting over me. I can build a set anywhere. I can frame anything. I take advantage of everything I see, wherever I go. How do you think you got your role in the Lo-Life community? In the beginning, when we went hard in the streets, your status was based on how real you were. Where I lived in Marcus Garvey Village, I was one of the people who represented as a leader. I was always a protector to my friends and to my family. It’s just the way I am. As for what Lo-Life became, a lot of it came from me as an entertainer. My first single that dropped, the Brooklyn Hard Rock, nobody really knew who I was, yet, but the Polo mesmerized them. It’s not even that I was trying to push or promote Polo. There’s no image to this. No gimmick. I just came as myself. Lo-Lifes are real big in that. Be yourself. Be who you are. Stand up and be that person. Why do you think Ralph Lauren fit with who you are? Ralph Lauren was the first designer I ever saw that was seasoned. He came every season, gave you multiple logos, multiple styles. I never witnessed that before in a brand. Constantly switching. That’s when it became a drug, because among Lo-Lifes, we were real competitive with each other. I’ve never been in one of those country clubs, but that’s an actual thing that’s going on, depending on your walk of life or where you come from. They live it in their own way. But the streets is where we made it a religion. That’s the difference.
Brooklyn, New York City Lo-Life, author, entrepreneur, and creative director.What first drew you to Polo? The colors. It was different. The style at the time was more or less shearling coats, leather bombers, sheepskin. When Lo-Life started wearing Polo, it was all eyes on us, like “Who are these kids with all these bright colors, standing out with the knapsacks?” You know what I mean? So by us having all these colors and bringing that style to Brooklyn, New York, we sorted created our own thing. Do you think there was an aspirational appeal to it also? Definitely. My mom and my father, they weren’t corporate people. They didn’t have big city or government jobs, so that whole Ralph Lauren lifestyle, I wasn’t really aware of it. I’d probably seen some on television, but even then I was too young to really understand the deepness in it. So yeah, coming in contact with the clothing opened my eyes to a lot of that, for sure. What do you do beyond Lo-Life? Outside of this, I’m an author, entrepreneur and creative director. I do a lot of work with the youth in the community. Having an opportunity to work with the kids, to share my experiences—the good, the bad, the ugly—and guide them toward a better direction, that’s what it’s all about. Turning my mess into a message. If we can help them live a better life without the negativity, it’s a great thing, you know. It’s a big world out there and it’s our responsibility to see as much of it as possible, and impact others in a positive way.
Paris, France/Charleroi, Belgium Lo-Life and DJ.What is the Lo-Life scene like in Paris/Charleroi?The Lo-Life scene in Paris is quite cool, but I mostly know the scene in Belgium where I’m staying lately. The Parisian scene is much bigger, and you have the OG members in touch with each other, creating chapters. In Belgium, it’s more about few real aficionados, and as a new Lo-Life, I’m more in contact with newer members. How did you get involved with it? I’ve been a streetwear enthusiast since I was 14, and until I was 27 I was mixing various streetwear brands, mostly French. I first started wearing Polo exclusively in 2015, over a few months I became fascinated by all the vintage collections. I was seduced by the culture surrounding the brand, learning about the origins and everything. It was exciting. What do you think the appeal is? It’s universal. You can go anywhere in the world and meet someone wearing a Ralph Lauren polo. I was working in the Ivory Coast for a few weeks and I met Polo addicts everywhere and we immediately connected. When I was in Hungary, near Balaton, I came across a family with 2 kids, both parents in Ralph Lauren, head-to-toe. There’s something in the brand’s DNA that just attracts people.
Paris, France Lo-Life, DJ and Hip Hop Veteran.What’s the scene like in Paris? How did you get involved? Lo-Life in Paris isn’t big, but it’s influential. Most of the people involved in the culture are active in the wider scene; DJs, producers, rappers, designers, graffiti artists. A new wave of french rappers like Alpha Wann, Caballero and JeanJass are repping the brand in their videos. It drives new blood into the community. Ralph Lauren wasn’t big in Paris until they dropped the Polo Sport line in ‘93. They had so many colorways, logos and styles, and it was expensive, not so easy to find, so it was exclusive. Me and some others guys like DJ Fresh, D-Lo, and VR the Legend started wearing full Lo every day, without even knowing about the Lo-Life community. We were just going to New York, seeing cool guys wearing Polo and trying to get some. It was only in the late ‘90s with the article in The Source about the Lo-Life crew and Thirstin Howl III’s “Brooklyn Hard Rock” and “The Polorican” that we started to understand the bigger picture. Why do you think Ralph Lauren has such universal appeal? He built his brand not only through fashion, but as a lifestyle. Whatever you do in life, you’ll be able to rock some Ralph Lauren at some point. Polo is classic. It might not be the latest hype trend, but it never goes out of style. It’s timeless.
The ‘92 Stadium Collection
Commemorating the return of their iconic ‘92 Stadium Collection, we created an exclusive lookbook showcasing the range’s most iconic pieces.