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Fashion April, 28 2014
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1994-2014: The 20 Best Supreme Releases by Year

Supreme’s 20th Anniversary collection contained elements that have been deep rooted inside the brand since the very beginning. There’s the Taxi Driver reference, the Box Logo, and of course a nod to their rich entrenchment in skate culture thanks to past relationships with Vans and Nike SB, and upscale skate deck releases with artists like Jeff Koons. There are very few streetwear brands that have made it to 20 years, so we’ve put together some of our favorite designs by year as a nod to their longevity. Will there be a 2034 release that has people lining up? Only time will tell.

 

Travis Bickle Tee – 1994

It seems quite apropos that Supreme has revisited its Taxi Driver origins for their 20th anniversary given their early connections to the titular character from the 1976 Martin Scorsese film. Released as one of the first three shirts created by the brand along with the Box Logo tee and the “Afro Skater,” the design serves as a reminder that in its earliest days, Supreme wanted to be anti-establishment.

 

Box Logo Tee – 1995

Thanks to the voyeuristic nature of his style of filmmaking, Larry Clark introduced the cinema world to Supreme with his 1995 film Kids. Starring Justin Pierce as Casper – who he himself was a regular at the new Lafayette St. store as well as a member of Supreme’s first skate team – the unflinching look at New York youth culture caused Roger Ebert to remark, “The movie seesthis culture in such flat, unblinking detail that it feels like a documentary.” We of course all now Barbara Kruger’s influence when it comes to this piece, but it’s cultural significance was further intensified when it entered this new medium.

 

Supreme x Vans Old Skool – 1996

It was the mid ’90s when Vans saw the value in the art of collaborating by tapping into the realm of haute couture with a partnership with Marc Jacobs in which they played with premium materials, cutting edge patterning, and limited production numbers. They furthered this ethos when they teamed with Supreme on their first joint venture  for a take on the storied Old Skool. “The Old Skool is iconic, classic skate,” said Supreme’s James Jebbia. “In 1996, it was one of the best shoes offered by Vans and has really stood the test of time.” Truer words haven’t been spoken.

 

Box Logo 5-Panel Camp Cap – 1997

Their 5-Panel Camp Cap has no doubt become one of their signature and instantly recognizable designs due in large part to the notion that consumers want something “similar, but different.” Released in black and two types of camo, the cap style is just as popular today as it was back then.

 

Keith Haring Tee – 1998

While Keith Haring’s work and general themes seem to have permeated popular culture, his work with Supreme in the late ’90s was important in introducing another generation to the work of an artist who had died eight years earlier. Re-appropriating a design element from a painting of Haring’s called Dog which was created in 1986, the original was created on plywood and had silkscreen elements.

 

Arabic Tee – 1999

Serving as one of the first instances where Supreme altered their logo, they’ve continued to use this design and is as a compliment to branding that is now instantly recognizable from shape and color alone.

 

M345 Sahara Boot – 2000

As the story is told, “The original Wallabees, hand-made in Ireland by Padmore & Barnes, were designed after a German shoe made by a company called Viking. In 1967, Padmore & Barnes, under the ownership of Clarks, began to produce their own version of the shoes, then called Grasshoppers.” In 1997 when their licensing agreement expired with Clarks, Padmore & Barnes steamed forward without the Wallabee name – choosing to focus on numerous collaborative projects with other brands and retailers. One of those collaborations happened to be with Supreme. In speaking with Sneeze Magazine, James Jebbia said, ““I always loved and wore Clarks, but only the original ones that were handmade in the UK. The shape and quality changed once they switched production to China. All kinds of cool people in New York wore them, young to old, nerds, skaters, rappers, teachers, dentists, etc. They were comfortable, looked fresh and were of great quality. To me, the original Wallabees and desert boots are classic staples, they never go out of style, similar to a Chuck Taylor or a Vans Era. Once they started making them in China you could no longer find the good original ones. It was on a trip to Tokyo that I found some older ones with a Padmore & Barnes label. When I got back home I simply contacted them to see if they would be down to do some styles for [Supreme].”

 

KAWS Skate Deck – 2001

Prior to having his “Companion” character used in everything from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade to being a part of the MTV VMA’s, it had humble albeit significant origins. The KAWS’ Supreme collabo resulted in 150 editions of the deck that today sells for $6,000 USD. In speaking with Vibe, KAWS said of Companion’s origins, “When I lived in Tokyo, a friend of mine was really into toys. And at the time, I never thought of making a toy, but I was taking these advertisements and re-working them. I used to think of all the iconic characters that I liked, like Mickey Mouse. When I created Companion,’ it was me literally taking this head that I’d paint over model’s faces in print ads, and working him into this body that was familiar, but not really tangible shape.”

 

Supreme x Nike SB Dunk Low Pro – 2002

Looking back now, the Supreme x Nike SB Dunk Low Pro had two ingredients that would go on to radically shape the footwear realm: elephant print and the foresight to understand the the SB Model transcended mere action sports. If ever there’s such a thing as a certifiable streetwear classic, look no further than this collaboration.

 

Supreme x Nike Dunk High Pro SB – 2003

Released in three different colorways, the White/University Blue model realized on white leather with light blue crocodile skin-like material and side panels with gold stars was the perfect follow-up to their partnership with Nike.

 

OG Kate Moss Tee – 2004

Supreme’s designs are often classified as being critiques or re-appropriations of things from pop culture which has resulted in things like a cease and desist order from the NHL (for their Blackhawks-esque design) as well as their ability to pull off a Hell Angels spin for their Nomad tee without any fuss from the M.C. For their OG Kate Moss Tee, the shirt itself has its origins in the companies battle with Calvin Klein from ten years prior. At the very same time Kate Moss was appearing in their ad campaign, the Supreme Box Logo sticker was popping up all over New York City and ended up inserted into the photograph.

 

Peter Saville for Supreme – 2005

Joy Division’s 1979 debut album Unknown Pleasures features some of the most iconic album artwork of all-time. Credited to Peter Saville who had previously designed posters for Manchester’s Factory club in 1978, the image itself is based on radio waves from pulsar CP 1919, from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. Later on, the two entities would once again collaborate resulting in a reworked Vans Chukka, Era, and the SK8-Hi inspired by New Order’s 1983 benchmark, Power, Corruption & Lies.


Supreme x Jeff Koons Skate Deck – 2006

Known for creating accessible sculptures, Jeff Koons collaborated with Supreme to produce a variety of monkey imagery with surreal backgrounds realized on a set of skateboard decks appropriately dubbed “Monkey Train.” The result was something whimsical yet still in Supreme’s wheelhouse.

 

Murakami and Mr. for Supreme – 2007

Supreme released a series of limited-edition skateboard decks (six in total) designed by Japanese artists Takashi Murakami and Mr. in September of ’07. The collaboration came a year after the Jeff Koons deck and served as a precursor for the well-received “art meets skate” offerings from George Condo. In Supreme’s own words, “By proposing the concept of ‘Superflat’ he interprets modern Japanese culture in a state where the line between high and low culture has been melted. As an artist, Murakami questions the relationship between East and West, past and present, fine art, pop culture and mass media.”

 

Supreme Kermit the Frog Tee – 2008

Having been dressed by Brooks Brothers, appeared on knits from  Jean Charles de Castelbajac and photographed by Terry Richardson – the latter which produced this iconic design – it’s hard to ignore Kermit the Frog’s role in bringing a little humor to the streetwear world.

 

Damien Hirst Skate Deck – 2009

Yes, another skate deck. Inspired by Damien Hirst’s spin paintings, the artist first experimented with the technique in 1992 at his studio in Brixton, London. Hirst explained the the simplicity of their appeal, saying, “I really like making them. And I really like the machine, and I really like the movement. Every time they’re finished, I’m desperate to do another one.”

 

Thunderbird Hockey Jersey – 2010

Presented as part of their Fall/Winter collection in two colors, the Thunderbird Hockey Jersey was brought to national attention when Frank Ocean performed on Saturday Night Live in the Southwestern-inspired piece. A  perfect combination of a familiar athletic silhouette with emblem to match, it was nice to have a Supreme piece that didn’t rely on a high-profile collaboration.

 

Supreme x Adam Kimmel Two-Piece Suit – 2011

The capsule collection between Supreme and American designer Adam Kimmel resulted in an understated two-piece suit made from Italian cotton twill. While Supreme seemingly always has a trick or two up their sleeves, the introduction of formal wear containing their sensibilities certainly got our attention and no doubt influenced their decision to collaborate with Brooks Brothers.

 

Supreme x Vans Half Cab 20th Anniversary “Duct Tape” – 2012

“In ’91, I noticed that a lot of street skaters were cutting my shoe halfway down and wearing them that way,” Steve Caballero remembers. “So in ’92, I gave Vans the idea to make a lower cut shoe and call it the Half Cab.” Hand-cut and duct-taped, the collaboration was limited to 20 pairs worldwide and showed that Supreme was willing to serve merely as a retailer and didn’t demand branding on the classic 20th anniversary sneaker.

 

Supreme x Vans “Power, Corruption, Lies” – 2013

Once again turning to Peter Saville for inspiration, the floral motif pays tribute to the album cover he designed for New Order in 1983 and was executed on the SK8-Hi, the Chukka and the Era. Of course, in this day and age, everything seems to be a re-appropriation of sorts – thus we must give credit to the original point of inspiration: “Basket of Roses” by French artist Henri Fantin-Latour.

 

Supreme x Nike Air Foamposite One – 2014

While we’re sure that Supreme probably has a bevy of other sartorial gems cooking for 2014, we can’t look past the hysteria and hype surrounding their collaboration with Nike. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the spectacle itself was a design element that only added to the tangible vessel that was the Foamposite One with baroque leaf print.

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