Photos of Brooklyn’s Lo Life Crew: the Teenagers Who Brought Culture to Ralph Lauren


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Photos of Brooklyn’s Lo Life Crew: the Teenagers Who Brought Culture to Ralph Lauren

Tom Gould's photographs of Lo Life members show this week as a part of the Independent Photography Festival.

       All photos by Tom Gould. 

For the last five years, New Zealand-born, New York-based photographer and director Tom Gould has been working on archiving and documenting the Brooklyn crew Lo Life. Formed in the late 1980s by two groups of neighbouring teens, the Lo Life crew basically had one rule: acquire and rep as much Ralph Lauren Polo as humanly possible.

In the book ​Bury ​Me With the Lo On​, Tom Gould and Lo Life founder Thirstin Howl the 3rd, bring to life a sub-culture that inspired hip hop, street fashion, and a way of life, through a collection of stories, artefacts, and old and new photographs.


Tom Gould's original photographs, which catalogue some of the crew's members and their legacies, are coming to Australia's Independent Photography Festival this week in an exhibition also titled ​ Bury ​Me With the Lo On​​. Check out a selection of the exhibition here on Noisey, with some words from Tom Gould, and see more about the book here​.

Thirstin Howl the 3rd and Jesus DeJesus. An image of Lo Life founder Thirstin Howl the 3rd and his son Jesus DeJesus. What was amazing to me about this culture that started as a gang in Brooklyn and then spread around the world, was that as the years went by it changed and developed into something positive. Many Lo Lifes had children and raised them to love the clothes, fashion and in a way where they too aspired to be something greater. To me this image represents why this culture has been around for over 30 years, and why it will keep being loved and preserved within this unique sub-culture centered around the appreciation for the garments made by Ralph Lauren. 

G-George Album.


Bek Live 85.This image of Bek Live was taken in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Bek was an original Lo Life member from MGV. Bek is one of the charismatic leaders of the Lo Lifes and always had time for me when documenting the culture over the years. The "Double L" hand-sign became a common representation of the Lo Lifes.

​Polo Smoke. ​

Uncle Disco. A portrait of Uncle Disco taken in Marcus Garvey Village, Brownsville. Disco was an original Lo Life member from MGV. From first meeting Uncle Disco I could tell he had respect from everybody. He was Thirstin Howl's best friend since they were young and many of the stories I heard over the years involved them running around causing chaos together. The tattoo across Disco's back reads "Never Ran, Never Will" the motto from the neighborhood of Brownsville where Lo Lifes originated from. Most of the tattoos on Disco's body are influenced by Polo Ralph Lauren design and symbols, emphasizing the love he and fellow Lo Lifes have had for this brand since the late 80s.


RLPC Equestrians.

40 Deuce. 40 Deuce is another name for Times Square 42nd Street. This location has had special significance within the Lo Life history for many years. Throughout the 80s photographers used to set up backdrops along 42nd Street where people could take pictures in front of, and this is where many of the classic polaroids of Lo Lifes were taken. Times Square used to be a hangout for the different street gangs of New York and New Jersey, so naturally a lot of war stories came from this place, which is very different in todays times. This image is from an event called "Lo Goose on the Duce" that is thrown every year by Lo Lifes in order to get together, take pictures and remember what Times Square used to be.

Bury ​Me With the Lo On​ opens at Doomsday in Fitzroy this Friday, 7pm-9pm. Check the flyer below, and see the full I.P.F. program here.

​Follow Tom Gould on Instagram​.