How is a successful brand born? Sometimes by chance, sometimes for all the many factors that are precise and studied at the table, but almost always by intuition and by the vision of someone who, over time, becomes the philosophy of a society. Lately more and more often you see around the Supreme brand, a logo that is already produced in its incredible simplicity: a red box in which stands, in fact, the words Supreme with Futura Italic font inspired by the works of the American artist Barbara Kruger. But how did it become so popular and desired, and what distinguishes the business model of this brand?
Created in April 1994 as a clothing brand for skaters, Supreme was created by James Jebbia who, although born in America, lived in England until he was 19, when he went to work for Stüssy. The history of the brand is closely linked to its first store, opened in New York on Lafayette Street, Downtown.
The design and layout of the store were designed for skaters, with clothes all around the store and in the middle an empty space as if it were a track; this had created a unique for this segment, you could enter with the skate in the store and feel at ease in that environment. The unmistakable style of the New York store began to be talked about in that sector in which in the 90s, with strong interest, brands such as Nike and adidas were addressed, due to the spread of the hip hop culture that began in the previous decade. frequented by skaters and, more generally, their mood.
In 2004 it opened the second official Supreme store, this time in North Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles, California, almost twice the size of the original store and with a real skateboard track inside it. The brand became so famous that it was a succession of shops in Paris, London, Tokyo (more precisely in Harajuku, Daikanyama and Shibuya), in Nagoya, Osaka and finally in Fukoka, all with a design similar to the original store in New York. Last year the second store was opened in New York, in the borough of Brooklyn. Supreme has immediately diversified its offer without focusing on one product more than others, but spanning far and wide between clothing and various gadgets. Supreme’s clothing mixes many different underground trends of the ’80s and’ 90s, and they appeal not only to skaters, but also to cultures like hip hop, punk and rock. It also produces accessories and gadgets of all kinds, as well as collectible skateboards in collaboration with Kaws, Larry Clark, Cristopher Wool and many other artists. Parallel to the aptness of the trend and an undeniably catchy logo, Supreme’s strength lies above all in adopting a technique similar to those of haute couture societies, which produce elite and expensive garments to position themselves in the luxury segment, recurring often to collaborations and limited editions. No wonder that in a 1995 article, Vogue defined Supreme as the streetwear Chanel. Obviously Supreme products are never sold directly by the company at prices comparable to high fashion brands, but we still speak of figures significantly higher than the average, where a simple cotton sweatshirt with box-logo can cost even 150 or 200 euros.
Supreme’s method of selling is also very special: compared to any other brand that releases the collections at once, Supreme only issues 10/15 items or accessories at a time; so-called “drops” are sold online every week on Thursday at 11:00 am American time. This marketing strategy keeps the hype factor active and by producing a few items that are sold out in a few minutes from the online sale, people never get tired of Supreme’s success and still want to be able to grab a head of the weekly drop. This has also led to the creation of a parallel market in which once a Supreme piece has been obtained, it can be resold at least twice the price paid.
In the last few years Supreme has collaborated with countless famous brands such as Nike and Air Jordan, Vans, The North Face, Playboy, Levi’s, Timberland, Comme des Garçons, Stone Island and even Louis Vuitton. As if this were not enough to increase the volumes of articles and promotional material on which the Supreme logo stands, the company also operates with targeted promotional campaigns involving famous people of pop culture, from Michael Jordan to Lady Gaga, and many others simply dress Supreme and make the viral brand also on social media as happens in Italy for the couple Fedez and Chiara Ferragni. Supreme is certainly not as big a company as it works with, but it’s cool and eccentric enough to have become a cult phenomenon in streetwear. And if you are not yet convinced of the uniqueness of this phenomenon, it is enough to know that among the collaborations of 2017 there is also an agreement with the Circlemakers, group of creators of crop circles in the United Kingdom founded by the artist John Lundberg, to create a circle in the grain that represents the Supreme box-logo in a secret location in California. The circle can be seen in the short film produced by Supreme called Crop Fields.