Supreme might be the biggest streetwear brand in the world right now, but it's still got a sense of humor. Case in point is its accessories line, which, season after season, features tongue-in-cheek products that serve pretty much no purpose whatsoever. Supreme-branded hammer, anyone? How about a calculator?
It's become a bit of a running joke in the streetwear community, and it's a great way for Supreme to mock (and validate) haters' claims that people will buy anything with a Box Logo on it. The brand has even started making stuff specifically for all the kids camping out before drop days.
Pulling an all-nighter in the middle of winter so you can cop a North Face jacket? Make sure you've got your Box Logo-branded sleeping bag, camping chair and flask. There's also a portable speaker so you can listen to tunes, and a floodlight for when it gets dark.
Those novelties are all part of Supreme's sadomasochistic relationship with its fans — it has legions of kids lining up to spend thousands on its products every week, and it doesn't give them anything in return. There's no "behind the scenes" look at what makes the brand tick, and barely even any customer service. It taunts its fans with stuff that they don't need, daring them to buy it anyway. Which they do. Season after season.
For FW16, Supreme has unveiled what's probably its most ridiculous item yet. A Box Logo-branded brick. Where past novelties have been at least a bit useful, in some way or another, who needs just one, single brick? Not even Supreme heads who happen to build houses for a living.
Supreme prompts commentary and divided opinions with almost everything it does, and the brick is one of the brand's most bizarre stunts yet. Is it art? Is it a joke? Is it just Supreme trolling its many, many detractors? Or even its own fans? Here's some possible explanations behind the brand's most useless accessory yet.
David Shapiro, author of Supremacist, argues that, “what unites Supreme’s accessories is that most of them have some sort of illicit/underworld connotation having to do with violence or drugs." Previous 'Preme collections have included baseball bats, crowbars and hammers — all everyday items that, much like a brick, could be used to break into cars, houses or peoples' skulls.
Shapiro goes on to say how Supreme accessories "appear, for the most part, ostensibly innocent – only when viewed together do you get the sense that they’re suggesting something illicit.” Those criminal undertones, as my colleague Aleks Eror argued, allow Supreme to cash in on that adolescent bad-boy that lives in dark corners of the male psyche.
A brick is also slang for a kilo or pound of drug. Again, this isn't a first for Supreme — it's had drug references in collections for years. There's lighters, roach clips and ashtrays (best of which was this sick Hermes knockoff) for the stoners, and pill boxes for the ravers.
Much like the brand's pseudo-criminal products, you don't need to smoke blunts everyday or be into ecstasy to find this stuff alluring. By copping one of Supreme's bricks, pill boxes or ashtrays, you're essentially buying a bit of nefarious cultural currency with a Box Logo on it.
There's a couple of Supreme fans who claimed they actually pitched the idea of a Box Logo brick to the brand via the contact page on its website. Nicholas Neporanny and Lawrence, aka @soLe_posession, told Complex that they petitioned the idea to the brand, and asked a hundred or so of their fellow fanboys to do the same.
So maybe this is just Supreme's way of showing that it's listening to its fans — even if it's not speaking to them. Obviously, the brand hasn't openly acknowledged any of this.
Shortly after his release from prison, Supreme dropped a video of Gucci Mane lounging about his Atlanta home, sporting a Box Logo tee and messing around on a piano. Maybe the brick is ’Preme shouting out Gucci and his Brick Squad crew and label — or teasing a future collab? Who knows, maybe we'll get Guwop on a Supreme tee one day.
In basketball lingo, a brick is, depending on who you ask, a shot that only hits the rim, backboard, or nothing at all — i.e. a total failure.
Fashion bros have adopted the term, too, using "brick" to describe shitty gear and/or outfits. Four Pins, the bastion of fashion and internet satire that it is, obviously found Supreme's latest prank hilarious.
So this could either be Supreme giving a shout-out to streetwear's favorite sport, or yet another tongue-in-cheek way of mocking the haters.
In Supremacist, Shapiro says he views Supreme as a “long-term conceptual art project about consumerism and theft … And corporate ownership,” and compares the brand to Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons — all iconic pop artists who Supreme has collaborated with. Pop art, like Warhol's soup cans or Koons' balloon dogs, is all about blurring the lines between creativity and product, by taking everyday objects and framing them as art pieces. By putting its logo on a clay brick, Supreme is basically doing the same thing.
Maybe Supreme just made a brick because it wanted to. The brand really doesn't need to justify itself at this point — its place at the top of the streetwear game was established a long time ago. Jebbia and co. all know what the detractors think, and they clearly don't care — making a brick could just be another way of pissing people off.
Unlike a Box Logo pen, fire extinguisher or ski mask, you literally cannot use the Supreme brick for anything. It's that sort of irreverent, outsider thinking that makes Supreme one of the most fascinating labels in the world —it's constantly challenging our notions of what a clothing brand can and cannot do. There's nothing else like it, really.
[UPDATE] August 18, 6:00 am EST Here's another theory. A few months ago Eminem released a special batch of bricks from his childhood home. Maybe Supreme is giving Slim Shady a low-key shout out. Thanks to Facebook user Knuckler Kane for pointing that one out.
Supreme's FW16 collection drops today in New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris. Those of us in Japan can look forward to the first drop on August 20. The online shop, meanwhile, re-opens on August 25.