Chris Tanners aka @suicideskier takes us through the London scene
Twenty five years ago, I traded away a hoody that was special and rare to me. It’s a tale as old as time.. shortly after letting it go, I wanted it back. For twenty five years I searched high and low, but it was gone for ever. Over the past year, as I have gotten more familiar with the online Polo world, I noticed a few people have it. One of those people is a prolific collector named Chris, going by the handle @suicideskier. As I started looking at his visuals, I noticed the pieces looked familiar, but the locations I didn’t recognize - he is overseas. I thought Europeans had their hands full with their own luxury brands. From a global perspective, I was aware of Asia, especially Japan, being the home of major collectors. Looking at Chris’ page, you can see there is a growing community of collectors connecting with the American brand in London and Europe. Chris and I started speaking recently and he was nice enough to share some of his collection with us here. He also found my hoody!
J.E.: Thank you for finding that hoody.
C.T.: It was mad. I wish things came up that easy.
J.E. Tell me about your life and how you got in to collecting.
C.T.: I was kicked out of school at the age of 15. I didn’t go to college or university or anything like that. I went to work in construction. Still to this day, I’m working every day. I’m a grafter. I’m a hard worker. That’s what I do with most of my time. I don’t want to be broke, man. That’s the past to the present.
C.T.: I take collecting seriously, I got my first good piece over 15 years ago. I was late. I’m no OG by any means. I started collecting Polo in the 2000s. I was a teenager in the ‘90s. If you were into hip-hop, it was part of the uniform. You know, hip-hop videos.. I have never been a big internet person. I was very late on that. Even to get an email address, an eBay account. Polo is why I got an email address. I never had a computer apart from making beats, and that computer never went on the internet. I had a burner phone when people were getting iPhones. I told people, “You can’t get me on Facebook and MySpace.”
C.T.: I had people who were close to me who were educating me. They were earlier getting online. They were picking up pieces off eBay in the early 2000’s. The first time I ever saw the Javelin shirt made an impression on me - my friend was coming around to listen to beats and he wore it. He told me how it was classic. He only picked it up for 50 quid. This is how I learned about things.
C.T.: So, go on a few more years. I became aware of how to find these classic items. I’m thinking, surely there’s none of these pieces left. But, as I talked to people, they explained that in thrift stores, vintage shops, online - you find things - that’s when the bug hit. I thought rare Polo was unattainable or too expensive. Classics sell on eBay for thousands of dollars. When you start to find things at prices that you thought impossible.. once you find one, it carries on. Then you find one that may not be your size, you sell it for a couple of hundred. That, then, gives you money to buy more. It carries on like that. It becomes a habit.
C.T.: You find a sick piece for a reasonable price, then you find another one. Then, you’re like “I’ve been doing my research, there’s only 2 more colors of this”. So, you keep looking. It’s all part of the game. I’m still looking for certain pieces, some for 15 years. I’ve paid bills in lockdown flipping Polo. That’s still how I operate now, in slightly bigger numbers. I’ve spent good money.. nothing crazy, but I like to think I’ve built most of my collection on finding pieces for good prices.
C.T.: Aside from finding classic pieces at low prices, there’s another cool thing - the stories. I’m interested in it. A couple of times, people told me, “I bought it in Macy’s in New York when I went there in the ‘90s.” If you can find out a little tiny snippet of information, it’s sick. I remember I bought a Superman Fleece. It didn’t have the tags, but it definitely hadn’t been worn. I got it for peanuts. I asked the seller, “What’s the story?” It was some 15 year-old kid who got it out of the attic!
J.E.: What is the Polo situation like in the UK and Europe?
C.T.: I don’t know, I feel like there are definitely a lot of heads who are into Polo - whether that’s vintage Polo or retro Polo is a different question. I realized, really, through social media. I wouldn’t have known about some of it if not for IG. There’s definitely people repping Polo in Europe. I met the Paris heads - there’s a scene there, and in Spain, especially Madrid. I hope to get there soon. Even in London, or England, or the UK, it’s not big. People in America really - they don’t understand - they think it’s popping here, but it’s not. It’s definitely low key, even since the retro explosion of people becoming aware of what it is and how accessible it can be now.
J.E.: How did your connection with RL the brand come about?
C.T.: The whole Instagram thing. That’s how I’ve gotten in touch with people, including people at Ralph Lauren. I got an iPhone, downloaded Instagram. Now, I’m digging for Polo on there. I posted pictures of my pieces. I’m still trying to build up my collection. Take nice photos. The reason I post, it’s to share the pieces. But I like the creative aspect.. making art out of Polo pieces. A lot more people were doing layouts when I first got on Instagram. When I started, I didn’t know anybody on there. It was a way of getting to know people. When you get a photo, it’s like a piece of art. I’ve dealt with Ralph Lauren the company, they’re very respectful, interested, and amazed. They love it. They’re like “Wow.” I’m polite when talking to people. I know how to interact with people. I get that it’s a privilege to deal with the brand.
J.E.: Any other memorable moments in your travels?
C.T.: I found 3 vintage polo flag flip beanies (with polo on the inside) for around $10 each. I had one already so sold them and made $1000. I used the cash to pay for a trip to New York. I had hardly any links but wanted to get to NY so I went on an adventure. As soon as I posted a pic of me there, I got untold messages from heads who wanted to link, have a drink and chill. I was surprised and grateful.
C.T.: Snob XTC came thru right away and showed me around the first day….. he didn’t owe me anything or need to do that, but he did. A strong connection was formed with him and later Klame as well. On the same trip I met Mar-Lo and Uni, who introduced me to Classic and a lot of the RLPC family. QKay, Claudine, Ha-Lo and thru him bek live were also in the mix from early, doing deals thru the post and in person when I’ve been in NY. L.G.O.T.D. was a good moment. Met a lot of good people who welcomed that guy from the UK with open arms.
C.T.: I met Omar in New York. He’s humble and chill. We did a size swap on P2 and Stadium hoodies. I felt like we both came out good in that situation. I actually met Thirstin Howl III at a book signing he did for Bury Me with the Lo On. I went to Dublin with my boy.. we wore some dope stuff. We walked in and Thirstin was like, “My family arrived.” We chilled in the hotel and ate falafel at 2am. The guy is super humble.
C.T.: That translates to when you go back home, you’re looking out. You stay in touch. People hit me up all the time asking about London, asking me where to go, what to do, who to see. I’d want the same thing if I was visiting your city.
J.E.: Do you feel some kind of an obligation to carry on with this?
C.T.: I’ve never thought about it exactly like that. I love that. That’s sick. You’re right. I guess, I don’t think I personally think I have to do this. But if everyone thought that way then it would be nothing. I’m talking as someone who is into original Polo design. In my mind, things are only meant to be in that way. Anything that isn’t, looks wrong to me.
J.E.: Last but not least.. the pieces themselves.. what pieces are on your mind?
C.T.: My first vintage piece was a suicide ski knit. It was probably $100. Now I’ve got a jacket to match. Suicide ski sweatshirt is my favorite piece. I’m looking for some of the classic rayons. A Hurdles. A Snowbeach Hoody. The main thing for me is finding things cheap. It never gets old. If it’s not costing you much money to find things that make you happy, why would you stop?