3 March 2018

Polo And Lo-Life

Horse Power: Hip-Hop's Impact on Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren is not a brand I know all that much about. And yet there is a fascinating social history that accompanies the brand and the logo, which I would love to learn more about. I am sure that some of you may have already seen this documentary by Complex on Polo Ralph Lauren and hip-hop, but I thought that it was worth posting. It covers what could potentially be a case study in how a subculture is able to subvert the assumed meaning of a brand and its product. In doing so the wearers are able to reconfigure the way in which it is read by others within a context that it was arguably never intended to be represented. In doing so a new space for alternative meaning is created that is, in my view, far more exciting than the original proposed (or at least, assumed) meaning. Of course one can argue that Polo did begin to cater for the hip-hop community without explicitly saying so. But even if that were the case, the fact that they have never been open about it is interesting. It would suggest to me that there is still some core identity of the brand that they are trying to keep firmly within a more conservative American value system. My first question is then this - if Polo Ralph Lauren were to openly tap into and collaborate with the hip-hop market, would it benefit or harm the brand? Is Polo more desirable because of the very fact that it is still seen to be exclusionary? Or is hip-hop big enough to create a shift within the brand direction that would actually be more economically successful?  

Watch the documentary and let me know what you think, I would love to discuss this with you!


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