UPDATE: The Business of Fashion confirms that Supreme has indeed sold a minority stake in the company to Carlyle Group. The exact terms of the deal were undisclosed, but BOF speculates the investment was a small one based on this exclusive statement from Supreme founder James Jebbia: “We’re a growing brand, and to sustain that growth we’ve chosen to work with Carlyle, who has the operational expertise needed to keep us on the steady path we’ve been on since 1994. Working with Carlyle allows us to concentrate on doing what we do best and remain in control of our brand, as we always have.”
The Carlyle Group is expected to help grow Supreme’s business, and could be the driving force behind the independent label’s rapid expansion in the past few years. BOF also comments that “the private equity firm presumably aims to rapidly grow and then sell the company within three to five years,” but also points out the possibility of Supreme moving forward with an initial public offering, making the label a publicly-traded company.
Just one day after Supreme opened its latest flagship store in Brooklyn, industry publication WWD is speculating that the brand may soon be closing an investment deal with private equity firm The Carlyle Group. While details are scarce, and both companies declined to comment, it’s certainly not surprising that Supreme is drawing attention from heavyweight capital firms.
The brand has steadfastly risen to become one of the most influential, not to mention talked-about, labels in fashion today, and its unique business model is something that’s becoming increasingly relevant at a time when retailers all over the world are feeling the effects of e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar shops are seeing profits rapidly shrinking, yet Supreme stores have customers lining up outside them every week, and in many cases, every day.
In fact, Supreme’s outrageous success was one of the reasons the brand chose to open a second shop in its NYC hometown. “The truth is we maxed out on the Manhattan space. We were at capacity,” Angelo Baque, Supreme’s former brand director who still oversees the company’s art direction, told WWD. “We couldn’t serve any more customers or sell more items…We wanted to have a store that was close enough to the city that wouldn’t inconvenience our Manhattan shoppers.”
This wouldn’t be the first time the industry was speculating about a potential Supreme buyout. Earlier this year, rumors spread that LVMH, the holding company that owns Louis Vuitton, had purchased the company for $500m. LVMH later denied the rumors.
The Carlyle Group is one of the largest private equity firms in the world, with revenues of over $2billion and a portfolio of assets worth $193billion (that’s just below the GDP of Greece, and more than the entire Czech Republic).
Stay tuned as the story develops, and in the meantime, here’s a who’s who of the skate and streetwear OGs who showed up to the launch party for Supreme Brooklyn.