In a surprising move streetwear brand Supreme has sued Leah McSweeney’s Married To The Mob for $10 million dollars over the brand’s popular “Supreme Bitch” design. Originally released as part of the brand’s inaugural 2004 collection as a commentary on the men’s dominated streetwear landscape, the design has since come to define the label causing Supreme’s James Jebbia to seek damages as the design “infringes his trademark rights.”
The case is curious for a number of reasons. For instance, the tee was carried at Union in 2004, a shop owned and managed by Jebbia. Furthermore, the original Supreme design is largely based on the work of prolific artist Barbara Kruger, not to mention the number of brands Supreme has reappropriated over the years.
On the other hand, Supreme set out from the beginning to keep their product exclusive and the practically unregulated reproduction of “Supreme Bitch” certainly waters down Supreme’s exclusivity and integrity.
McSweeney had the following to say about the case:
More recently, a New York Magazine article has provided a few more details:
In 2004, when 22-year-old Leah McSweeney started a women’s skate-fashion line called Married To The Mob, her first T-shirt was a sort of homage: supreme bitch written in the Supreme (via Kruger) style. Jebbia carried the shirts in Union, another store he owned. As Supreme’s fortunes multiplied, so did Supreme Bitch. Rihanna posted pictures of herself in a Supreme Bitch cap. Karmaloop and Urban Outfitters have sold Supreme Bitch items. In January, McSweeney took what would be a normal step for an upstart clothing label: She filed a trademark application for Supreme Bitch. Two months later, Supreme sued McSweeney for $10 million and demanded she remove the offending items from retailers. According to Jebbia, McSweeney’s shirts aren’t just logo appropriation; they’re “trying to build her whole brand by piggybacking off Supreme.” Though he does remember approving the original Supreme Bitch designs, at the time, “I thought it was just going to be a one-off. Now it’s on hats, T-shirts, towels, mugs, mouse pads.” McSweeney has a different take: “There’s this one Barbara Kruger piece that says, ‘Your comfort is my silence,’ and I can’t help but think that I’m being silenced by Supreme with this lawsuit. I don’t have $250,000 to litigate this case, and they know that.”
UPDATE: On June 24, 2013 reports come in that Supreme has dropped the lawsuit against Married to the MOB, after having reached an amicable solution.