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.

Junya Watanabe is one of the archivists' main squeezes, right up there with original obsessions like Raf Simons and Helmut Lang.

Watanabe's poem-printed garments, for instance, have been grail-ified in the same way as UNDERCOVER's "Rebel Gods" jeans and Number (N)ine's OG "School of Visual Comedy" print.

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.

His stuff is beloved internationally and it's readily available every season at big boutiques like SSENSE, indie Japanese stores, and all of COMME des GARÇONS' own Dover Street Markets.

But Kanye and Supreme have given Watanabe a bump in fame that even archivists and savvy rappers couldn't offer.

For all those collectors bemoaning Watanabe's newfound popularity, take heart: your closetful of OG Watanabe items just went up in price.

What To Read Next

*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titelmedia (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titelmedia strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titelmedia has engaged UsableNet Inc, a leading web accessibility consultant to help test, remediate and maintain our Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.