There's a lot to be said for Supreme's democratization of fashion. Everything from hype sneakers to luxury items to drops "for the culture" exists within the world of Supreme, so its forthcoming Junya Watanabe collaboration really needs no justification.
It does, however, provide an interesting case study for where Supreme gets its inspiration as it pushes yet another (kinda) niche designer into the collaborative spotlight.
The story begins with the relatively small but passionate archival menswear scene, which includes everyone from bigwig collectors to social media collectives to even smaller and more passionate enclaves.
Though Watanabe has enjoyed a kinda micro fandom within this realm for a couple years, the COMME des GARÇONS designer really became the toast of the town when Kanye West inexplicably name-dropped him on DONDA's "Junya" and its similarly-named follow-up track.
From this moment forth, Watanabe's brand became inextricably linked to a couple Kanye lyrics in the public consciousness. Just check the comments on Supreme's Instagram post for proof.
Kanye's homage and this Supreme collab are a one-two punch that boost Watanabe's cultural relevance, seemingly outta nowhere — I mean, what are the odds that Watanabe would be at the center of two major youth culture moments in one year?
Time will tell if these happenings actually boost Watanabe's resale value — Supreme's Yohji Yamamoto collab didn't really affect much, honestly — but they definitely do heighten his brand's relevance among streetwear consumers in the same way that Supreme's Jean Paul Gaultier line gave the French designer new life outside of the archival obsessives and industry lifers.
Supreme's Junya Watanabe collaboration makes me wonder if collectors' obsession for vintage Watanabe actually made this collection a reality.
For instance, the Supreme collection includes its own poem pieces — rendered in Supreme's Futura Heavy Oblique typeface — patchworked militaria, and even some GORE-TEX outerwear, seemingly in homage to Watanabe's most coveted retro items.
Of course, Supreme is mum on its inspiration (as always) and plenty of Watanabe grails — like the parachute womenswear and cargo pieces — aren't referenced at all, so I'd say it's in the eye of the beholder.
Junya Watanabe was never irrelevant, to be sure.
For all those collectors bemoaning Watanabe's newfound popularity, take heart: your closetful of OG Watanabe items just went up in price.