In the early ’90s, Ralph Lauren was more or less unstoppable. Staples like the suits, polo shirts, and ties that made the brand famous were ubiquitous among the country-club crowd, and in the city, fans were also flocking to Ralph’s more logo-heavy gear under the Polo Sport label, which launched in 1992. The Polo Sport pieces from those days included classic collections like Stadium and, even more memorably, Snow Beach, which hit shelves in 1993.
The Snow Beach collection, which consisted of hoodies, hats, and, most iconically, a pullover parka in yellow, navy blue, and red, is today some of the priciest vintage Ralph Lauren on the market. Part of that has to do with the fact that the collection was limited-edition to begin with. But it’s also because standout Polo was the hottest thing to wear. (Think of the way kids flock to Supreme today for a logo tee or hoodie, and then double it.) Soon enough, the “Lo Heads,” who sported head-to-toe Polo and amassed collections of gear with each passing season, were a dominant style tribe.
Today, after 25 years, Ralph Lauren is bringing back Snow Beach. The brand has added modern takes to the offering, including a capsule of black-and-white versions of each piece (including that famous parka). To celebrate, we enlisted Bloody Osiris, one of the Internet’s favorite up-and-coming stylists, to take the new gear for a spin. But seeing as Bloody wasn’t even born when Snow Beach dropped the first time, we also checked in with menswear heads who were there for Polo Sport’s heyday, like Awake NY founder Angelo Baque, and owner of the Los Angeles menswear shop Magasin, Josh Peskowitz. And because no Snow Beach retrospective would be complete without the Wu-Tang Clan’s own Raekwon, who singlehandedly made the Snow Beach parka iconic by wearing it in the group’s video for “Can It Be So Simple,” we gave the Chef himself a call, too.
Polo Ralph Lauren’s “Snow Beach” color capsule drops on Thursday, January 25. The black-and-white collection releases on Thursday, February 1. Available in-store and online at Ralph Lauren.
Raekwon, rapper, Wu-Tang Clan:Polo was the sporty, young-guy type of clothing brand. And people wanted it ’cause it cost a decent amount of money, and people with money wore it. We just adopted it because of the colors, the flags on it. They were winning back then ’cause they had the university type of feel that everyone loved. All it took was people in the rap game to start talking about it and wear it casually to help the brand climb to a level where they won’t even acknowledge it.
Angelo Baque, founder of Awake NY:When Snow Beach came out, it was the height of the second generation of Lo Lifes in New York. In the mid-to-late ’80s, you had the Brownsville guys, the original Lo Lifes, who held it down. But I was too young to take notice. But in the early ’90s, a new generation grew out of Brownsville to include graffiti writers and kids who would run around the village, but they took the same means to getting the gear as the originals. They boosted it from Macy’s or wherever. But they were collecting a lot of things from a young age, like Polo, The Source magazines, so they were ahead of the game. I knew some dudes who still had that jacket in the early ’00s, when it was already worth $800. They had an idea early on that the jacket was a commodity, even before re-seller culture and eBay came into play.