BY LAIRD BORRELLI-PERSSON
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.