Edited by: Nathifa King
By now, you may have read or watched countless documentaries about the history of Ralph Lauren and his juggernaut of a company – Polo by Ralph Lauren. You may already know of the billions of dollars of product and real-estate that his company have amassed throughout the years. If you are ages 30 + and lived in the US since the 90’s, you also may have shopped Lauren’s multi-tiered brand-offerings within department stores such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and their countless free-standing stores and outlets throughout America and abroad. As you may have noticed, back then, the prices may have been a bit high for inner-city kids to afford. Amid all these truths, specifically during the 80’s and 90’s, you may have noticed pools of teenagers all throughout the subways, bus stations and malls wearing Polo Ralph Lauren garments from head to toe. Have you ever wondered how these inner-city Youth could afford such pricy apparel? If you are an outsider, what you may not know is that there were specifically two groups of Youth that spearheaded this trend right under the noses of the elite. This is truly a rags to riches story of Youth with great aspirations of wealth and success, taking their destiny into their own hands; working through adversity and eventually accomplishing their dreams and status in life.
The brand Polo – Ralph Lauren was created and designed as an aspirational brand that represents the affluent community of Americans with disposable income. According to Matthias Meyer, “Ralph Lauren Corporation is a global leader in the design, marketing, and distribution of premium lifestyle products.”
Even though Polo had successful product placement, it didn’t necessarily appeal to the style of the inner-city Youth Culture. The designs and colors were attractive, but the way the brand presented the product was, according to popular inner-city opinion, corny. This is where Rack-Lo and his group of cohorts came into play. Unbeknownst to Polo – Ralph Lauren, their brand was about to get a face-lift!
Referred to as the Polo Godfather – George Billips aka “Rack-Lo” advocates for many agendas as it relates to Education, Socialism, Politics, History, Entrepreneurialism, Self-Investment and Family. Fashion is just one part of the life that he enjoys. Fashion is always relevant in Rack-Lo’s life no matter the occasion because it’s all about mastering and capturing “the look”. Now on a mission to implement positive change in society – The Polo Godfather embodies the spirit of the people, the spirit of constant elevation, upliftment, and revolution for the better. As a result of his vision in creating the Lo-Life BBQ along with his wife Sheena in 2006, the Lo-Culture was born and remains influential internationally. Rack-Lo’s business acumen continues to blossom and soar as he stirs the culture creatively in the following areas: merchandising (RL Jewelry), event coordination, clothing brand (Lo-Life Heritage), producing and documenting the culture and constantly cultivating and book writing as a published author. With several books penned ready for future release, look for Rack-Lo’s current book “Lo-Life: An American Classic” currently available at all digital platforms and brick and mortar outlets distributed by Penguin Random House.
Known for uniting two of the world’s most famous Polo crews St. John’s Posse (SJP) & Marcus Garvey Village(MGV) resulting in global Polo dominance of style, Rack-Lo formed a network of Youth around America and abroad trading and repurposing rare and exclusive items from each Polo collection. Rack-Lo’s motto is “The Lo Don’t Make The Man”, The Man Make The Lo” signifying that the true value resides in the person (wearer) who endorses quality and style. He literally began collecting and styling himself in strictly Ralph Lauren garments since the age of fourteen. Rack-Lo pioneered many different fashion styles with heavy emphasis on the Lo-Life famous dress code: “Lo Down”which means wearing Polo from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. Not only did this spawn a new chapter in the life of Polo-brand interest, but it practically changed Hip Hop fashion culture forever.
The year is 2022, street fashion icon – Rack-Lo embarks upon a new venture in Brooklyn, New York. He is poised to curate the CraftPalooza fashion show simply called “LIFE”. As you fashion enthusiasts may know, New York City is the fashion epicenter of America. Boasting an entire avenue (Fashion Avenue) and adjacent sections dedicated to the Garment District, the Lo-Lifes have proven to be some of the most influential fashion figures during the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s.
FASHION WITH A PURPOSE
Dewry DuRoi Bradford – CraftPalooza founder said, “It is important to show the current generation a bird’s eye view of how creative arts not only influences fashion & music culture, but it also acts as a defining timeline for 4-seasons of life. Through fashion we will take the audience throughout the course of a person’s life… from beginning to end.” Dewry DuRoi sat with co-executive producer Kirk Innis to create the launch of what will be an annual event in Brooklyn, New York called Craftpalooza. This platform commemorates the golden era of Hip Hop by paying homage to the pioneer street-artists procured by UnderHill Walls and pioneer street-stylists of the 80’s & 90’s – the Lo-Lifes.
Kirk’s motto is: “Creativity begins with a though.” He stressed the fact that his street-family (the Lo-Lifes) would be a great way to represent Brooklyn, New York in an authentic manner. He then brought Rack-Lo and Prance-Lo to the table and began forming the flow of show, which will take the audience on a journey throughout a New Yorker’s life. Dewry DuRoi states, “We will begin with Ralph Lauren streetwear; then move into Ralph Lauren collegiate apparel; after that, Ralph Lauren corporate attire; finally, Ralph Lauren successful entrepreneur garments. It is important to show our Youth the importance of living a full life. They will get to see that a human was meant to be young, then go off to higher education to learn trade and concepts. After that, apply all training to corporate life… being responsible citizens and earners for their family. Finally, taking their experiences to launch a brand, product or provide a service as a successful creative in society. According to Matthias Meyer, ”Ralph Lauren consumers tend to be in the upper-middle-class to upper class range. These social classes tend to have the most disposable income to spend on clothing and other higher priced Ralph Lauren products, and, therefore, they shop more frequently than others.”
Dewry DuRoi adds, “I believe that Ralph’s original plan was to create a brand that represents individuals who’ve achieved the American Dream… and what we will do on October 22nd will showcase just that. One begins as a novice, learns, works hard and then becomes successful. That’s exactly what we should all be striving for.”
CraftPalooza is set to launch on Saturday, October 22, 2022, from 4pm – 11pm at the Tillary Hotel Ballroom located @ 85 Flatbush Avenue Extension – Brooklyn, NY 11201. With a host of over 30-top street artists, models, and performers, it promises to be an authentic, nostalgic Brooklyn experience for the whole family.
CRAFTPALOOZA VIDEO PROMO
CRAFTPALOOZA RSVP: (Click link to attend):