When you think of Polo Ralph Lauren, the idea of preppy white kids living an endless summer comes to mind, right? Not for me. Being a product of the eighties and nineties era of hip hop, I look at Polo (or ‘Lo’ as it’s known on the street) as being the dopest fashion from that era. In 1988, a group of kids who called themselves the ‘Lo-Lifes’ almost single-handedly brought Polo from the suburbs to the hood. Forget about Kanye West. These Lo-Lifes wore Polo exclusively and have done so to this very day. To them, Polo is more than a mere clothing brand, it’s a lifestyle with rugged roots planted in the toughest parts of Brooklyn, New York. I got together with the one and only Bagz, one of Brooklyn’s finest for a high schooling on this bold era.
Your friends say you have so much Polo you use it to insulate the walls of your house. Hahaha.
Ha haaa. That’s funny. I just always had clothes in bags because there was no room in my closet. I had my wears in gym bags, duffle bags, black plastic bags. Everybody just started calling me Bagz and the name just stuck.
You must be like that with sneakers also?
I’m like that with clothes period! I look at it like this – every-body has a vice whether it be drugs, alcohol, cars, jewelry, electronics or whatever. My vice is wears. I’m just on some fly Brooklyn shit. There are a lot of people just like me. I just take it to the extreme. I have sold half of my kicks and I still have more than I can wear in a year. I can wear a different outfit every day of the year and never repeat and that includes socks and draws, so you do the math. Lo was just another fly label. It wasn’t the only fly label, but it definitely held weight in the hood. There was a point where it wasn’t safe to rock Lo in Brooklyn or anywhere in NYC for that matter. Dudes were getting got for it. I even got stabbed over a jacket called the Sui Goose, but it was minor wounds. I guess when there’s a high risk involved, that makes the shyt that much more coveted.
What does Polo mean to you?
Lo is like my uniform, but before I even shed light on that I must say that this Lo thing didn’t start yesterday. It started over 20 years ago in Brooklyn before I even got up on it. A lot of people don’t acknowledge the originals who brought this Lo shyt to the streets, the Lo-Lifes. That’s like the GDs (Gangster Disciples gang) in Chicago not acknowledging Larry Hoover. Everybody started repping Lo AFTER the Lo-Lifes made it hot. I met Ralph Lauren on two different occasions through a friend and he had even heard about the Lo-lifes. How real is that?
How was Ralph?
I met Ralph and his son David a few years ago through a good friend of mine who runs Team Revolution in Brooklyn. He used to rock Lo heavy as well, so he asked me to bring some pictures of us rockin’ assorted pieces from back in the day. I came through and showed them the flicks and we just told them about how we used to get down. It was just bugged out that we were in the same building with Ralph. He’s a cool cat though.
Ralph Lauren is perceived as predominantly a white upper-class label, however the brand has become huge in black culture. What’s your take on this?
It’s not that it became huge in ‘black culture’ – it got huge in the ‘hood’, which is constituted primarily by blacks and hispanics. Anything that gets big in the hood, gets big everywhere because the hood sets the trends. Dressing fly in the hood improved your status. You could be the brokest dude on your block, but no one would know or care if you stayed dipped in fly attire.
BK, Troop, Ewings, Le Coq Sportif and Tacchini?
All of the above, thanks to having older brothers who laced me all the time. The only thing that I still have from those labels that fits is a Sergio Tacchini velour suit that I had since high school. As matter of fact, I think I’m gonna flam that this week for old times sake. Word.
What’s the deal with the Gucci sneakers?
Ahhhhh man. This might blow up my spot. I’ve been doing the Gucci as long as I was doing the Lo. It’s just that a lot of people didn’t know much about it at the time. I definitely have some classic Gucci shyt though. I never really did the Pradas hardcore, just a few here and there. Gucci has been my lane. Brooklyn is a borough full of fly cats. Even some of the most grimey dudes used to stay fresh. There were nuff dudes doing the Gucci thing in the eighties before I started beaming it, but I know that I was definitely one of the youngest cats with it because my peers weren’t up on that yet.
Jay-Z did something with Reebok on the Gucci tip?
Jay patented the S. Carters after the ‘87 Gucci sneakers which I thought was an ingenious move. I actually have the original ‘87 Gucci sneaks believe it or not. When the S. Carters dropped a few years back, I rocked the originals just to profile on cats, and people went crazy. I actually had more than one pair, but gave a few away because they were too small for me.
Was Fila really big with you?
Fila was big in New York period, especially Brooklyn. I grew up in Flatbush and Bed-Stuy, with a brief stint in Jersey. Fila was just that fly shyt. You saw people like Eric B and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and Mike Tyson rocking Fila all the time. Fila is still that shyt to me to this day. The Flatbush joints are my favorite. That’s the classic cream lo-tops. I have them in leather and suede. I also felt the M-Squads (Jamal Mashburns) and the Grant Hills. All the strapped joints were iller than the 54/11 Reeboks to me also.
Uptowns (Nike AF-1) were big... any other Nikes?
I could be here all day on this one. I’ll just stick with what were my joints as far as Nikes go. I killed Uptowns, Carnivores, Foamposites, Air Revaderchis, Air Max 95, Jordans (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 8 and 11), Dunks here and there, Barkleys, and Webbers. I know I’m forgetting some things but like I said... I’d be here all day.
how did your kicks match up with polo pieces?
I used to rock my Snow Beach Lo hoody like it was going out of style with the green Carnivores. I swear I did that shyt at least once a week back in the day, but I didn’t care. I used to rock the Bakins with a flamethrower jacket and this red polo hat. I also used to rock that jacket with these Asolo boots with yellow laces.
What’s contributed to your positive outlook on life?
I’m breathing and I’m healthy, so I can’t complain too much. I’ve had a lot and I’ve lost a lot. That taught me to be grateful for everything that I have. I’ve done several things that could have affected my life in a negative manner, but I managed to be fortunate enough to slip out of tight situations. I feel like I’ve been blessed with the opportunities that I have, so now I just have to do my part.
Last thing I wanted to ask you is why Brooklyn is just so fly?
Brooklyn is a place where stars are born. From the rappers you’ve heard about worldwide to the street legends that a lot of people never heard of, Brooklyn is a place that you can be proud of being from. Anyone who is from here is quick to let you know that they’re from here, and some people who aren’t from here are quick to claim it. I’m Brooklyn’s own and I rep that until my dying day.
This article appeared in Issue 12 of Sneaker Freaker. Buy it here