Public School Opens LO & BEHOLD Exhibit at 3 Howard Street in NYC
LO AND BEHOLD; A Case Study in Cultural Re-Appropriation is the opening exhibit at the new 3 Howard Public School space starting October 2, 2018. Curated by Ezra Wine and Public School (and featuring the personal collection of Ezra Wine), the exhibit examines the NYC originated sub-culture of collecting Polo Ralph Lauren, and its ripple effect on fashion and pop culture.
Originated by the collective known as the Lo-Lifes (consisting of two rival Brooklyn crews, Ralphie’s Kids and Polo U.S.A respectively), the lifestyle built around stealing, selling and obsessing over brands like Polo and The North Face set the blueprint for modern day sneaker and streetwear fanaticism. Before there was hype, there was an even greater lure — owning something that wasn’t ever meant for you to own.
Polo, tennis, golf, skiing and other predominantly White Anglo-Saxon hobbies of sport and leisure were the furthest thing from the inner-city neighborhoods of Brownsville and Crown Heights. However that was the point. The clothing’s original intent didn’t matter; it was the Lo-Life’s co-opting of the dominant culture that subverted the dynamic of cultural appropriation. By seizing patronage of a brand that was implicitly not intended for them, this Brooklyn crew not only reversed the traditional balance of power between the majority and minority but also showcased the influence that individuals and communities can have over brands. And as streetwear today continues to dominate the fashion headlines it seems as if things have come full circle.
As Ralph Lauren celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year, drops of the celebrated collections from the early 90’s have been re-released for the first time as a veiled nod to the impact this NYC subculture has had on the brand. The exhibit features over 100 original pieces from those various Polo Ralph Lauren collections (circa 1988-1994) which are curated into 3 teenage bedrooms set in the early 90’s. Each room is meant to serve as a time capsule journeying into the zeitgeist and celebrating an era of unprecedented creativity, resourcefulness, and influence, all of which has had an indelible effect on Public School.