The Brooklyn Street Crews Who Boosted Ralph Lauren And Invented Their Own Style

by MR Magazine Staff

“Bury Me with the Lo On,” a new book by the rapper Thirstin Howl III and the photographer Tom Gould, begins in the mid-nineteen-eighties, as the story of Ralphie’s Kids and the United Shoplifters Association, two Brooklyn street crews locally famous for wearing nothing but Polo Ralph Lauren, which they almost never paid for. They crossed paths often on the subway, and, given the two groups’ predilection for merely taking what they wanted, it seemed inevitable that they would begin robbing each other for their gear. But something unexpected happened. One night, both crews were hanging out in Times Square, where photographers used to set up with airbrushed backdrops of city sights and designer logos. The United Shoplifters came upon Ralphie’s Kids taking a group picture in front of a Polo background. They were the only ones who could truly appreciate the meticulousness of each other’s outfits, and so they decided to take the picture together. They soon realized that it made sense to join forces. In 1988, united by a nerdish devotion to Ralph Lauren and an implicit understanding that department-store security guards were ill-equipped to deal with packs of forty or fifty kids at once, they christened themselves the Lo Lifes. Read more at The New Yorker.