When it comes to streetwear, there is no brand that is more relevant than Supreme. Fans of the brand wait impatiently for it, camp out for it, and are willing to pay double the retail price on the re-sellers market. I, like many others, was eagerly awaiting their online shop to re-open last Thursday for their first release of their much anticipated spring/summer 2014 collection. As I was furiously clicking the refresh button on my browser, I started to wonder what is it about the skateboarding brand that I gravitated towards.
For those that don’t know Supreme, they are a skateboard/clothing shop that first started in New York in 1994. It’s an authentic skate shop that is run by skaters. A lot has changed since Supreme first opened its doors on Lafayette Street in New York City. The company now has stores on the west coast in LA and worldwide locations in London and Japan. They have become the defacto brand in streetwear and considered to be as much as a part of the menswear genre as much as Tommy Hilfiger and Polo.
With the celebration of its’ 20th anniversary, Supreme has definitely outlived the lifespan of a typical street wear company. The beauty of Supreme is its ability to attract skaters and non skaters alike. The skate company has the unique ability to appeal to a broad range of clientele, often defying classification of being labeled as only a streetwear brand. Supreme offers unique opportunities to let the consumer decide what they want the clothing piece to be: a streetwear staple, skateboarding gear or an accessory or layering piece to an individual who’s more into high fashion.
Supreme’s ability to offer a sense of authentic culture is one the driving forces in its popularity. If you ever visited a Supreme store or purchased a piece from their collection, you instantly feel a sense of authenticity, New York fashion and skate culture. Wearing a box logo tee or Supreme five panel cap is like gaining access to an exclusive New York member’s only club. You’re seen as someone who possesses the cultural capital on all relevant happenings that are trending in street & fashion culture.
Other than the branding and affiliations of wearing Supreme, the design and quality cannot be overlooked. The skate company’s designs don’t follow trends. Supreme’s designs and aesthetic are uniquely theirs; even non branded Supreme gear that does not feature their iconic red box logo is still easily recognizable.
Being a consistent brand for twenty years, this is no easy feat in fashion. Supreme’s ability to release a consistent product in terms of quality and pricing has been the key to their success. While having numerous offers and opportunities to grow the business into a streetwear empire, the brand simply refuses to cash out on it its’ authenticity. Supreme’s business model of not participating in wholesale has also given them an advantage in keeping prices fair, but maintaining superior quality while sourcing the best manufactures.
There will always be fans of Supreme that wish the brand was more accessible. However, the true fans of the brand understand that in order to preserve its’ cultural relevancy and identity, Supreme needs to be somewhat hidden and hard to find.