The first time I heard about Supreme was in April 2, 2014. A newspaper showed that NYPD has forced Supreme to not sell the Supreme/Nike Foamposites and accompanying clothing in New York Store. At that time, I was shocked that why do people so crazy about Supreme, a street brand? Then I followed my curiosity to start doing research on this brand. History about Supreme. It was a inspirational story.
Supreme is a streetwear brand found by James Jebbia in New York City in April of 1994. James Jebbia is from Sussex, England. His father is an American who served for Air Force. His mother comes from England. In fashion city, James, not surprisingly, shows keen interest on fashion. He used to go to London during weekends to feel that kind of atmosphere. After his parents got divorced, he decided to go to New York City and seek refuge with his father. He wanted to achieve the American dream in New York City. In 1983, he decided to stay although he actually didn’t know what to do to make his dream comes true. At the beginning, he worked for a clothing store called Parachute in SOHO, Brooklyn. And then he built a used clothing booth to gain some experience on clothing in Wooster Street, Brooklyn. Later, he did out of the breakthrough by opening a experimental buying shop called Union. It mainly engaged in some British brands and Stussy (one famous original street brand comes from California). This “testing water” action gave him a great chance to open a new Boutique with CEO of Stussy, Shawn Stussy. This Boutique was very successful.
At this time, Shawn Stussy wanted to quit after making respectable income. James helplessly closed this Boutique. But he had gotten enough experience to operate a new Boutique by himself. He was ready. Supreme was born after that. Picking up the store location is the important thing for every small business. James chosen Lafayetta Street was the first location. Although he didn’t play skateboard, he had many skateboarding friends. Also, he liked the lifestyle that skateboarding shows. The reason to choose there was very simple: there was no decent skateboarding shops around here. And this street was perfect for skateboarding. He wished that Supreme can be a symbol of street culture. He wanted make the store a place that can connect skateboarding, fashion, music, and other subcultures. Supreme is successful.
The essence of good brand can never make it without good quality. Supreme keeps executing both functionality and pragmatism. Pants are military-grade standards. Tee are twice as thick as normal tee. It fully meets male consumers’ needs for fashion and quality. Supreme’s first target market is male New York Skateboarder. This group has their own attitude on dressing with strict standard and willing to show different styles. This group is the pioneer to combine high-end brands and street brands. They also inspirate Supreme to become more sensitive on fashion. What’s more, Supreme always looking for inspiration from 90s’s subculture. As a result, Supreme carries forward subculture. Mainstream started to watch out this Black Horse. Although Supreme team didn’t every customers can deeply understand street culture, they at least let people know what is going on with subculture and recognize Supreme’s dedication of this culture.
Marketing strategy of Supreme may sound incredible in the early stage. No one can touch the products. The attitude of sales clerks is bad. If customers want to buy some things, they have to ask sales clerks if they can check in the storage. However, this service did not affect the sales at all. People thought this brand was mysterious at certain level. Limit to sale is one of their marketing strategy. Whenever it release new products, there usually has long lines. One of the key marketing strategy is to collaborating with many artists and celebrities, singers, models to expand their marketing share with different styles. Marketing Share of Supreme is huge. I cannot find The most interesting part for me is that Supreme hardly do advertising. There are only two ways customers can buy Supreme products with retail price. One is going to the stores, the other one is that going to its website at 11:00 am EST on every Thursday. The craziest part is that many of my friends check the official website over five times daily just try to know when new release date is and where products release. Furthermore, box logo of Supreme is inspiring by Barbara Kruger, a female artist. Supreme keeps it until now. But the best part of logo is that Supreme is always changing when face to new collaborations.
In fact, every time it collaborates with different individuals, Supreme team will create a new logo with new content. For example, the collaboration is about Middle East, the logo becomes Arabic. If the artist comes from Ireland, the background layer of logo becomes orange, white, and green instead of red. As far as I am concerned, Supreme is a great brand that has its attitude and passion. James’s team is doing what they want to do. They don’t care about scandal about celebrities, or the street design with weird contrast colors, and so on. They don’t send samples out. They are not interested in other things they do not care. They always stay low key. If you really want to know about Supreme, buy one.