The advent of Hip-Hop in the early 1970’s not only transformed a new style of beats and rhymes into a world-wide cultural phenomenon but it also created a dynamic shift within the constructs of cultural appropriation. The originators of Hip-Hop including Kool Herc and Coke La Rock used every inch of their surroundings to create a generational sound forever altering the outlook on their place in the world. Tapping into city-regulated lamp posts to power their sound systems they broadcasted hand-spun break beats from earlier musical genres to the delight of their local communities. B-boys and Graffiti artists co-opted public spaces to exhibit their burgeoning art forms and MC’s borrowed from popular culture to help contextualize their new brand of bravado-laced prose. With the rise of Hip-Hop came an evolving style movement that wasn’t only inspired by the music but by its spirit of taking things, which weren’t meant for inner city youth, and redefining their original intent. Luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton who ignored this consumer segment found themselves in the throws of a developing subculture whose love for these labels, while unrequited helped generate urgency and buzz around the product. Throughout the 80’s Harlem designer Dapper Dan built a popular business on repurposing counterfeit Gucci and LV monogrammed canvases and leather into new creations for a highly visible clientele of rap artists and neighborhood celebrities. However it was the love affair with two brands in particular; Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face that really changed the discourse for generations to come. 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, boosting, racking and obsessing over brands like Polo set the blueprint for modern day sneaker and streetwear fanaticism.
Curated by Ezra Wine and Public School (and featuring the personal collection of Ezra Wine)
*"The Radiant Child", Rene Ricard