What’s Supreme’s ‘why’ behind partnering with so many brands?
The collaboration phenomenon has let luxury labels merge with high street, artists make clothes with fashion houses, and open the eyes of untapped markets to brands they used to shun. But which brand has the most compelling collaboration history? We’d say it’s Supreme.
Since its conception in 1994, the New York-based brand caters to skate and hip-hop culture—however, nowadays, their pieces are definitely in the closets of people that have never got on a skateboard. Supreme actively prompted the shift in people’s perspective of luxury with the messaging that “fancy” doesn’t exactly equal “cool.”
Their most daring move was back in 2000 when they released a collection of skateboard decks, t-shirts, and beanies with Louis Vuitton’s monogram pattern printed on them—without the French House’s approval. In effect, LV filed a lawsuit against them and reportedly demanded Supreme burn all their stocks to avoid further circulation.
Fast forward seventeen years later, when Virgil Abloh helmed Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, a formal collaboration between the brands was born. Critics called it a “murder-suicide” and “a brilliant troll”—but numbers don’t lie.
After the collection’s presentation in Paris’ Fall 2017 men’s shoe, LVMH’s sales saw a 23 percent profit increase thanks to the final legal joining forces of the two brands.
However, the former small-time skate shop turned billion-dollar company eyes to disrupt not only fashion but also industries you’d least expect.
In the art world, Supreme partnered with historical porcelain product maker Meissen. For $3,998, you can own their figurine collaboration of a standing cherub piercing a bow through a human heart while wearing a Supreme t-shirt, of course.
In addition, they worked with the British conceptual artist Damien Hirst for a skateboard and shirt collection incorporating Hirst’s signature dotted art.
And as an ode to prolific 20th-century artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Supreme launched a line incorporating his graffiti, handwritten style into button-up shirts.
One can also travel with Supreme through their luggage sets with Rimowa and commute to NYC if they catch a Supreme MetroCard. If you box, you can get Supreme gloves with their pair with Everlast.
And if you like watersports and baseball, you can get equipment from Supreme’s collections with Advanced Elements and Louisville Slugger, respectively.
Supreme recently released the high rumored jewelry line with an unexpected partnership with Tiffany & Co. inspired by the jeweler’s piece from the sixties.
Novelty items by Supreme also exist in their work with a teddy bear collaboration with kidswear brand Steiff.
Although there are a plethora of collaborations you can choose from; whether you’re into sports and art or fashion and travel, every release is minimal. It’s not just because they make lesser pieces, but because they sell out quickly.
Proof in profits
One thing that stays consistent throughout all of Supreme’s collaborations is that they own a good chunk of recognizability in each product—its simple, bold red and white block letters are its superpower.
“People want to know, ‘hey, that guy’s wearing Supreme,’” says one customer in the Business Insider’s video on the brand’s hold on various markets. It’s also worth noting that Supreme’s collabs mentioned don’t even make a dent in the actual number of partnerships they’ve acquired since the nineties.
With that said, let’s go back to Supreme’s 2017 collection with Louis Vuitton. The New York multi-category brand tried to inject their ideas of “cool” to a serious high-fashion house, and the profits LVMH made from this is proof that people will shell out for things outside classic appeal.
Next year, VF Corporation, its parent company, expects Supreme to contribute $600 million in sales.
Banner photo from @hypebeast on Instagram.