Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Guess & Polo

P Wings, 1992 Stadiums, Teddy knits, Indian Heads, Cookie boots and the legendary Suicide & Fireball goose down jackets! If you grew up in any semi conscious fashion state in NY in the 80’s and 90’s, you are well aware of the prior listed “I Tees” (items) and the complete and utter dominance of fashion designer Ralph Lauren on our adolescence, particularly urban adolescence. For those who indulged, the mere thought of this fashion trend probably brings a half smile to the frosted side of your shredded Mini Wheat biscuit (the kid in you). When trying fruitlessly to explain the social significance of Polo or “Lo” to today’s youth, I get the “Get outta my face with your stupid ass teddy bear sweater” look. I can’t wait for them to receive similar glares 18 years from now as they wax poetic about tight ass, spaghetti strap ass, skinny leg jeans and Ed Hardy to their offspring. If they even have offspring. Seriously children, take those nut molesters off your ass and get some jeans that fit! If your balls have no choice but to inversely rest above your penis, your jeans are too tight!

Any self-respecting individual seeking social indoctrination in high school, or just a fan of Ralph Lauren, had at least one item in their wardrobe growing up. Even if you couldn’t afford a big-ticket item (the larger the logo, the higher the uncut cool value), a pair of Polo chino’s or a dress shirt with the tiny Polo player stitched in the corner would suffice, at least to you. Any garment displaying a logo in plain view was a go. Knights of the Round Table, U.S Polo Association, or any other knock off was not acceptable however! Some worked for it, convinced their parents to buy it (I’m impressed), traded with others, and obtained it by any means necessary (Boosting, shoplifting, “throwing it up the back”, etc...) Petty theft wouldn’t have been a plausible option for me. Finding a new place of residence if caught wasn’t worth a sweater, no matter the amount of points racked up on the high school Coolametric scale. So I remained “corny” (in fashion only cause I’s a cool mofo) until my personal recession was over. We used to take field trips just to acquire Polo. Raise your hand if you have ever been to Reading Pennsylvania, Franklin Mills, Century 21, Prato (both locations), Burlington Coat Factory (all three locations), Carle Place NY, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls, in search off. Of course you could get it for full price at the Polo Mansion, Macys, Bloomingdales, & A&S (you thought I forgot huh) or any other reputable establishment well within reasonable proximity and not requiring you to pack a lunch, but if you were like me, your budget was limited so you had to be crafty (plus it was fun). Asking your parents for a 200-dollar shirt just didn’t yield a high dividend so you obtained Polo by traveling what seemed like cross- country at the time (all the way through Long Island by bus.)

I remember gangs being dedicated to fashion (Lo-Lifes for Polo, Faceheads for Northface, Tommy Boys for Hilfiger) which seems a bit “West Side Story” and non masculine now but these fashion gangs definitely consisted of aspiring thugs and murders so judge not a book by it matching cover with coordinated Jansport strings and Fila sneakers to boot. As a matter of fact, many a folk had their ass kicked and their clothes taken clean off their backs on several occasions (they ain’t ever take shit from me! Do you know who the f*ck I am?! Plus I aint have shit.) Some folks even lost their lives. It was never that serious but it was always that serious when you were a kid.

Ralph Lauren was my official welcoming to brand name marketing, social acceptance and keeping up with the Joneses. No matter how cool you were, No “Lo” equaled no “Ho” in certain circles. Harsh right? I only say “ho” because how is a chick that goes out with you for what you drive any different than one who likes you for what you wear (is this an after school special?) Same digger, different gold. We were young boys and we did what the girls liked but it almost seemed like the moment I walked out of the store with my first official “I Tee”, the value of Ralph Lauren diminished like a new car driven off the lot. It was never about the actual clothes but the way it made you feel / was perceived. Valuable items seldom add value to your self worth. Once you obtain that feeling of confidence and self worth however, you should realize that it can’t be taken away and that it comes from within. There is nothing wrong with learning that lesson once. It is when you persist with the pursuit of the latest, car, house or gadget that you may want to reevaluate your esteem. Do you ever buy things to make yourself feel better? To date, one of the most beautiful women I have ever dated, I met wearing a tee shirt & shorts while taking out the garbage. Your clothes have very little to do with your persona. It is just garnish, which for all intents and purposes, can never replace the substance of an actual meal. Work on your meal.

Sidebar; I still wear Polo every now and again but it aint for chicks. They don’t even know what it is most times and find it ostentatious. I enjoy it for nostalgic purposes. Ok, that and the look on other collector’s faces when I “shit on ‘em” 16 years later with some classic shit. I will forever remain a child! Sidebar complete.


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