You See This Coat is a deep dive into an exceptional or influential piece of outerwear. From the history behind each design to charting significant or noteworthy evolutions, this series should give a little more context to the iconic coats and jackets that have shifted the modern menswear space.

Ralph Lauren wouldn’t be the brand that it is today without its exceptional ability to tell stories through clothing.

In contrast to the well-to-do aesthetics of the label, Ralph Lauren the person grew up middle-class in the Bronx. RL Mag outlines the aspirational lifestyles that have inspired the brand over time; “Ralph had built his brand by reimagining and revitalizing the codes of traditional aspiration—the English sporting life, the glamour of old Hollywood, the youthful spirit of the Ivy League, the grandeur of the American West.”

The brand was launched in 1967, but it was not until 1993 that the disruptive, snowboarding-inspired, Snow Beach collection was conceived alongside three other sporting-inspired concepts; RL2000, Urban Ball, and Sportsman. Simplicity and impact took the forefront of the snowboarding collection: emblazoned across Ralph Lauren’s first mountain-ready collection are Cold Wave and Snow Beach.

The significance of this “Snow Beach” insignia was not fully cemented until a year later in 1994, when Raekwon donned the eye-catching windbreaker in the Wu-Tang Clan video for “Can It Be All So Simple.” On the day of the video shoot, Raekwon spotted a Snow Beach parka at Abraham & Straus, in downtown Brooklyn, and bought the last XXL in the store for around $300. This moment catalyzed others in the music industry and in hip-hop to see Ralph Lauren in a different light. A new wave of producers, emcees, and hip-hop fans who had a die-hard interest in Ralph Lauren, including another prominent Ralph Lauren collector Just Blaze, who reportedly became close with Raekwon through their shared love of the brand.

“I felt like it was one of a kind because it seemed like this was the only jacket in my size waiting for me.... When I rocked it, it popped off. It became one of those pieces,” Raekwon told Complex. “When I bought that jacket, I just wanted it ’cause it was colorful. I wanted to be comfortable and colorful, and to let people know this is how we dress over here. And it definitely is an honor to be considered the one who made that jacket blow up.”

In the late-‘80s and early-‘90s, the Ralph Lauren-obsessed Lo Life crew had claimed the American brand, and Snow Beach quickly became part of the crew’s uniform. While Ralph Lauren already had a high degree of status on the streets, it was the co-signs from Raekwon and the Lo Life crew that made Snow Beach one of the most covetable collections from the Ralph Lauren brand.

In 2018, Ralph Lauren issued a retro Snow Beach collection which included the infamous windbreaker in its original colorway, as well as a monochromatic version stripped of color.

The original yellow, blue and red color scheme of the iconic windbreaker was cribbed by Nike for a 2018 Air Max 1 that was unmistakably similar. Before that in 2014, Packer Shoes brought the Snow Beach windbreaker’s colorway to the Saucony Grid 9000.

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Tags: saucony, packer-shoes, lo-life-crew, lo-lifes, air-max-1, nike, you-see-this-coat, hip-hop, raekwon, wu-tang-clan, wu-tang, snow-beach, polo-ralph-lauren, ralph-lauren