Lo-Life: An American Classic takes the reader on a trip to New York City in the early 80s—a time when crime and violence ran the streets. The famed street gang, The Lo Lifes emerged from this tumultuous time. Formed by crews of teenagers from the Brownsville and Crown Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn, they made a name for themselves by dressing head to toe in highly coveted Ralph Lauren clothing or “Lo.” Polo apparel—and other preppy 80s fashion brands like Guess, Nautica, and Benetton, among others—presented an aspirational lifestyle for these kids from rough neighborhoods just struggling to get by. Fighting for style and survival, the Lo Lifes targeted these brands, and would acquire them by any means necessary—including stick-ups, shoplifting, and hustling. A reign of terror ensued, when your new winter coat could make you the target for a robbery or worse.
What started as an informal gang uniform, organized around clean designs and bright colors, became a devotion to a lifestyle brand, and eventually created an association between the streets and luxury that would fundamentally change the foundation of the fashion industry.
Lo-Life: An American Classic documents the personal collections of archival Polo apparel and never-before-seen vintage photographs amassed by the crew. And through countless interviews with original members, as well as individuals from the worlds of fashion, hip-hop, and art, presents the first comprehensive oral history of this notorious New York collective. It tells the remarkable story of how a small group of teenagers fighting to make a name for themselves eventually made themselves seen, heard, and emulated globally.
Love and Loyality!
Jackson Blount, a Brooklyn native, graduated from SVA in 2001. He has designed professionally since, doing both corporate and freelance work throughout his design career.