There’s something quite perverse about the fact that people will line up for hours, sometimes days on end, to cop a plain white T-shirt, or a basic grey hoodie with a box logo on it, and yet have no idea who designed it. In the streetwear world, the logo is king — and we really should know the brains behind them.
Luckily, the people over at The Coveteur have served up a streetwear-label-font history lesson, taking us through the exact fonts and designers for Supreme, Thrasher and Kanye’s Life of Pablo. Check them out below.
Typeface: Futura Bold Italic
Established: 1927, by Paul Renner. Placed in a box in 1979 by artist Barbara Kruger. Repurposed by Supreme in 1994.
The 101: The exact story is still a little unclear, but basically Supreme admitted to using Renner’s font in the same way Kruger did, recognizable by the typeface over text block format, in a copyright infringement legal case back in 2013. However it wasn’t Kruger suing Supreme, but Supreme suing Leah McSweeney (of the brand, Married to The Mob) for her “Supreme Bitch” parodical merchandise.
Established: 1951, by French typographist Roger Excoffon.
The 101: Excoffon’s typeface, Branco, which was considered a tad cheap and tacky among his contemporaries, had for many years emblazoned the windows of butcher shops, hair salons, and bookstores in Europe. It grew stale and nobody in their right mind would choose to center a brand around it, until Bob Marley used the font for his Natty Dread album in 1974 and made it cool again.
Of course it became infinitely cooler when in 1981 skateboard magazine Thrasher used it to dress up their skaters. Nowadays pretty much every fashion person on Earth has worn some variation of the logo – even Justin Bieber and Rihanna have been spotted wearing it, much to the magazine’s dismay.
Life of Pablo
Established: Gothic, also known as Blackletter, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 to well into the 17th century. However, Cali Thornhill DeWitt, the writer/designer/DJ/photographer/artist gave it a face lift specifically for Kanye’s The Life of Pablo merch earlier this year.
The 101: Unlike Thrasher’s and Supreme’s logos, there’s no controversy here. DeWitt does have an interesting back story, though — he was a roadie in the 1990s for Courtney Love’s band Hole, appeared in drag on Nirvana’s In Utero album art, founded record label Teenage Teardrops, and even co-founded Hope Gallery. He didn’t even take credit for Kanye’s now-iconic logo for almost a year. Top man.
For more fashion history, here are the stories behind some of Gosha Rubchinskiy’s best graphics.