People have been saying “RIP Supreme” for as long as I can remember. Every time the brand opened a new store, released a new collaboration, did anything, streetwear guys were saying “game over.” The longer the comment wars got, the more people said they were ditching Supreme for Stussy or Raf Simons or Neighborhood or whatever, the stronger the brand became.
The drop day lines got bigger, the resell market got bigger, the Subreddits and Facebook groups got bigger. The Supreme Foamposites broke the internet (and Lafayette Street). Complex made a documentary about resellers. Supreme x Air Jordan happened. David Shapiro wrote a book about his Supreme addiction. In between all the headlines, though, it was business as usual for our beloved New York brand.
For years, Supreme has tip-toed the line between underground and mainstream, and it’s done so with its integrity intact because it’s never changed the formula. It’s always kept supply lower than demand, it’s always kept things real. That means no cringe-inducing #influencer marketing, no massive launch parties, and no million-dollar campaigns filled with million-dollar supermodels. Even blockbuster Nike collabs are marketed with some low-key photos of the crew just hanging out on a street corner somewhere.
Until now, that is. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Supreme x Louis Vuitton is coming. Where Supreme collabs are normally quietly unveiled via the brand’s mailing list and Instagram, Louis Vuitton, the biggest luxury house on planet earth, is teasing the gear via its mega-celebrity brand ambassadors. It’s a PR disaster.
Just look at that photo. Cruz Beckham, wearing a box logo hoodie covered in Louis Vuitton’s monogram pattern. Cruz Beckham, the 12-year-old son of football megastar David and pop-then-fashion megastar Victoria Beckham, a family with a net worth of almost $800million, sitting in a mansion, holding his pet dog like he’s posing for a family portrait. He’s not hanging out on a street corner, grimacing while he’s draped head to toe in the greatest streetwear brand of all time. He looks happy.
It gets worse, though. Lewis Hamilton has got his hands on Sup x LV too. Lewis Hamilton, with his diamond-encrusted ear studs and the gold-plated guitar he bought from Prince for $100,000. Lewis Hamilton, who entertains billionaire oil tycoons by driving race cars covered in adverts for petrol companies.
Cruz Beckham and Lewis Hamilton are the least underground, least Supreme people you could possibly use to tease the Louis V collab.
The Supreme customer has changed a lot in the past few years. They’re younger, hungrier and obsessed with the box logo. Where the brand was once a signifier of clued-up inner city guys, it’s now synonymous with retail tourists and cash-rich kids fiendishly buying anything that says “Supreme” on it.
The Supreme brand, though, hasn’t changed one bit. Its collections look like ’90s New York was frozen in time, just like they always did. Moody skate kids are still starring in grainy Japanese lookbooks. Every time you think the hysteria has got too much, Jason Dill, with his old tattoos, nonchalant gaze and half-smoked cigarettes, will pop up in a lookbook and remind you that things are still the same, after more than 20 years.
Despite the hysteria, hype and consumerist madness surrounding Supreme, it’s an icon of underground culture because it keeps such strict control of its image. Its crew of wayward skaters and don’t-give-a-fuck store guys are one of the few things keeping it on the right side of mainstream; Louis V’s family-friendly, photogenic, rich and ridiculously famous ambassadors are the worst match possible.
Jason, save us.