The High Cost of The Lo-Life

July 19, 2008 by Jimmy J  · 37 Comments  

vintage ralph lauren polo logoI had absolutely no clue the world of hip hop fashion was the driving force behind Ralph Lauren’s surge in vintage value. Maybe that’s because I haven’t purchased a hip hop album since they stopped making them on cassette tapes. Maybe it’s because I use terms like, “cassette tapes” – a red flag that my radar on “hip” deteriorated when the data went digital.

vintage ralph lauren polo bear

Still, who would have thought a Ralph Lauren sweater featuring a cute polo outfitted bear would be pursued by those on the cutting edge of hip hop fashion? Not me, but I like it, I like it a lot. The style’s roots are in NYC where a gang formed in the late 80s called Lo-Lifes (“Lo” short for Polo) made colorful RL gear their fashion of choice. Today certain shirts, sweaters and jackets sell on eBay for up to 10 times their original value – so sporting Lo comes at a high price.

raekwonRalph’s certainly benefiting from plenty of free endorsements. Hip Hop icons like Raekwon are frequently photographed in his vintage gear, producer Just Blaze reportedly has the largest collection of it in the world, and Thirstin Howell III has a song titled, “Polo Rican” biggin’ it up and basically saying FU to FUBU.

How long will this trend continue? It all depends on whether or not Ralph Lauren can keep his hand out of the “cookie” jar. Can he pass up the big bucks that would result from re-issuing these popular designs? If so, the trend is here to stay.

[Update 10/17/13: Ralph Lauren reportedly reissues P-Bear sweaters for their "Bring it Back" line. And Polo launches offering vintage direct from the man himself. Coincidentally, the prices for these pieces have dropped dramatically in the last year.]

Where’s the best place to find it? We’ve got a great selection available here.

Which vintage Polo items are the most sought-after? It’s not the shirts with the little guy on the horse, or we’d all be rich. It’s mostly the clothes that fall under the Polo Sport brand which was introduced in 1993 and went defunct in 1998.

The highlighted terms below are various Polo Sport Terms:

  • As mentioned previously, the “P-Bear” and his multiple incarnations (skiing, golfing, in a tux or just hanging out) are hugely popular in sweater form.
  • Anything “P-Wing,” which is basically a track and field symbol (a shoe with wings) on sweatshirts and jackets.
  • Any of the elaborate “P-Wing”, “Stadium” polo shirts with all-over prints featuring various types of sports.
  • Anything with “cookies” on them – which is an embroidered circle containing Polo branding.
  • Jackets and hoodies that read, “Snow Beach,” or have an Indian head or tiger.
  • Pretty much anything with a USA flag, or any combination of the above features.

And the Holy Grail of vintage Ralph? Get this: the 100% silk polo crest shirt recently fetched more than $2,300 on eBay. Check out our gallery for more on the most valuable vintage RL.

vintage ralph lauren polo sport

  • Kevin

    Cool trend, I hope it doesn’t go the way of Lacoste

  • Pingback: Bookmarks about Polo

  • black lo

    the trend will never die because ralph isnt going to re release any of this stuff. additionally, alot of people think that ONLY having the above mentioned peices makes you a bonafide lo head, which to an extent is true. however, the range of collections that are available are almost mind numbing and still in the tradition of yesteryear. i am a lo life and proud of it. regardless of whats going on in fashion, i call pull out some garms from my closet and be the best dressed man in any room!

  • phil

    Polo Ralph Lauren is one of the most classic brands that you can still wear from any collection and look amazing in but these are some pretty high priced exclusive pieces. I found a pretty cool store In NYC that has some pretty nice classic Polo pieces and they’re actually affordable. I think the store is called Consortium New York -check’em out they also have some other poloesque
    brands as well

  • Eli

    Nuff respect to all the lo heads out there,i been following this trend since 1991 and i must say its no other trend like it,many different fashions fade away and dont have the street credibilty to produce legendary vintage wears worth of bringing out,even though ralph lauren after 2000 went a totally different direction,vintage polo is being sought after all over cause its rare its hot and we seperate ourselves from the rest of them.I still own alot of pieces and still sell n trade…we still out here…..

  • Frejolito

    This is a helpful guide, i had to share this site with my girl, thanks!

  • luck lo

    yo im only 21 but i remember that ma older brother was down with lo life in bk back in tha days rockin tha crest wit tha teddy robe and all that i followed in his footsteps i prolly tha only yung dude where im at that know about vintage lo. im an aspirin rapper so if i came out thats all i wud rock. i wud smash yung dro in lo son fa real. lo life crew baby.

  • frank

    that’s it, i’m pushing down Grandmas at thrift stores to get at Polo gear now!

  • JCJC

    What about a hoody with Bear? It’s made in USA. Does it has any high value? Anyone knows?

  • AH

    yes, polo bear hoodies are collectable too. Matters not if the bear is big or small.

  • Steve

    Anyone know where I can catch the RL2000 collection? Or any good site for vtg POLO? Ebay is cool and others?


  • Dave L.

    anyone with items they would like appraised or if your looking to sell anything, contact me at:

  • “POLO PRINCE” Seminole “ChiefLOt$aLO” Sport

    LO-Lifes stiLL do the Appraising worLd wide & stiLL have the Most LO in the WorLd not just cLassics but aLL coLLections from 70s tiLL next year… Ive had 2Ls up since yay taLL “Kid-LO” now “LO-Life” the yungest in charge …

    Rack-LO Presents the LO-Life POLO BBQ juLy 31st 2010 in BkLyn NY HighLand Park. Info for BBQ on my Facebook Page and Rack-LOs Page.

    My name is SeminoLe Sport
    2Ls up tiLL they Bury me with the LO on and SO On!!!





  • sunroc

    Update: cassette tapes are cool again. retro baby.

  • Dega67

    Yo i have been drunk of this trend since i was in high school (Art & Design in N.Y.C.)and that was over 18 years ago. Ther is nothing like classic lo, I need that Indian Head Goose in my life.


    A&D all day…class of 92…word!

  • Hazarudden

    I got 1 Polo Bear Skiing t-shirt Sz small but fit to medium in mint condition and 1 Double R polo shirt medium size…

  • Rage Frontpage

    Shouts 2 da all the O-ficial Lo-Lifes/Ralphy Kidz from KROWN HEIGHTZ BROOKLYN… And all Lo Headz in general… I got love for Trick Daddy, Lil Weezy, and any others who shout the Lo Brand, but people should know that there’s a real culture behind the Brookln/Ralph Lauren Relationship… Just like We took samples for our music, or stole Krylon for graffitti, there was also a fashion movement in the 9o’s whereas young black kids from Broolkyn stole or robbed millions of dollars worth of merchandise/profits from the Ralph Lauren brand. These are the \boosters\ you always hear about in East Coast Rap. And the main goal was to have exclusive peices when you went to school the day. I believe Ralph Lauren actually made a plea on television, asking the Lo- Lifes to stop stealing his products… His flagship ship store, the \Lo Mansion\ in Manhattan being a prime target and almost mythical place for Lo Heads.
    Other prime targets were Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and outlets in PA.

  • Cumfukwitit

    I don’t know what you’re talking about Rage, buy get your facts straight. It wasn’t just young black kids. It was never about race. I’m Puerto Rican and was down with the movement since ’89, Brooklyn born and raised. My homeboy was Cuban, and we also ran with white boys too. Also shout out to all the Chino’s in the city rockin those official joints. Cats rockin those size small P Wing joints. I used to love rackin small sizes just to bump it off to them for loot. LOL

  • Vintage Steeze

    Hey Polo Ralph Lauren aficionados…I just picked up a pair of vintage Polo Ralph Lauren pants today and I am trying to figure out what exactly they are and how much they are worth. If anyone knows a thing or two about RL pants…drop me a line and I’ll send you a pic so you can check ‘em…thanks!


  • Mr. FATHER!

    I am a true fan of Ralph Lauren dating back to the early eighties even before the Lo-Lifes existed. No disrespect to the Lo-Lifes but I date back to the origins of hiphop. I still sell only mint condition Polo items that date back to the 70′s&early 80′s as well as new gear from present day. Not only do I have old school pieces I have new items from Ralph Lauren such as PURPLE LABEL&Ralph Lauren Leather both old&new. New clothing I sell for less than store price but the old oness are too rare&I get top dollar for that but prices are still reasonable. I also sell NORTHFACE, MONCLER, CANADA GOOSE&much more. Even laptops&other electronics&furniture. You want the connect contact me will send you photos&info.

  • Mr. FATHER!

    Can you tell me the exact name&address of the store you speak of? I also have lots of Lo for sale&other name brand gear for sale. Let me know what’s up. @phil -

  • Isthmus

    Anyone know where I can find out if I have rare polo sport pieces?

  • Paidloisgaylo

    Anyone who bought/buys/plans to buy lo is straight dlck riders. You can buy the whole collection, you still ain’t shit. If you didn’t earn your pieces (not talking money) then don’t even try to front or feel like you ever gonna be part of the game. Claim your paid collection, and always know you won’t get respect from those who lived it. I got stories behind my pieces, you got confirmation emails..

  • GetwIt

    plz ctrl tab back to your chris brown videos.

  • Tineo1982

    alot of birds up here,,,,

  • Tito

    IT IS NOT JUST A BLACK THING! Only fools think that.
    I have been wearin polo since 7th grade back in 1983. I picked up on it from my father and uncles and older cousins. Lacoste(back then known as Izod)went sour & took a total nosedive. Lookin back now I shake my head at all the vintage stuff I threw away…smh. All vintage I have left is the snowbeach jacket. Unless ur givin $25K for it, its not for U don’t like it…go to the store and buy one lmao. I am from NY and fortunately I didn’t have to boost mine. In college I did hang with a kid from BK and we did boost(polo amongst others) for However I got paranoid of doin it and stopped by graduation…guess I grew up. He didn’t and did like 5 months in pennsylvania and got Like 4 yrs probation …stealin is not worth it.

  • 4thaLo

    And the polo out today is corny for the most part. U still see some fly stuff here and there but that big horse look doodoo. Shit with the patches is live! I used to boost at the outlets in west virginia off of I95. Best lo was from the 80′s & 90′s. I had the ill oil cloth winter coat …it ripped on the escalator in penn station…I wanted to shoot somebody …I still get vexed when I think of it. I liked it so much I still rocked it with the tiny rip LMAO. I got the old school ‘dead poet society’ cloak in navy blue from ’89. Ralphy need tocome back with the ski jackets from the 80′s. Like what the kids rock in the special ed video- I got it made. I lived for hard to get pieces that only very few others had/have. Vintage stuff I have now, I just rap it up & keep them in the back of the closet. I would black out if the were destroyed. Geico need to putnout RALPHY INSURANCE


    alright with all due respect you have war stories for your pieces. but cmon sun what grown ass man is still boosting in 2011. lo is respected everywhere especially vintage from the crest, cookie , suicide and p wing all classics. so be easy shiitin on folks b4 they run a mia in ur crib…Bk fool.

  • Hallowbling

  • Word?

    If you were stealing in the 80′s and 90′s I’m pretty sure you’re too old to be talking like that.

  • Fuckyuhbruh

    The bloomingdales trick was to use the guess dressing room it was like wild west saloon doors one dressing room back corner I would throw lo shit in there all day long.. Then go in with a pair of jeans and come out with a pair of jeans and weigh about 10 lbs heavier. There was a time I would be getting checks everyday back to back for returns of stolen merchandise from one store check from another. 

    -County of Kings!

  • Heisme

    peace bra from a major lo head bk to the fullest my name in the lo-world is stay-lo keep polo alive ( 1 )

  • Tsacon

    Anybody remember the stadum shirt with the clay tennis court scene? It had this huge tennis player on front. Complete with net, stands, the whole nine.

  • Tosha

    I always love polo l used to wear it back in the days. Now my 3 year old son i buy him all polo he have teddy flag sweaters everything polo they call him steve lo his middle name is ralph