This week Supreme released a collaboration capsule with Japanese clothing brand Hysteric Glamour. Japanese consumers are notorious for embracing clothing and accessories blazoned with swear words - partly due to a desire to rebel, partly due to a language barrier and partly for the simple reason that swearing isn’t considered quite as offensive in Japanese culture as it is in Western society.
Visit any major city in Japan and you’re likely to see anyone from school children to pensioners walking around in public with a whole variety of curse words printed on their clothing. When looking through the extensive Sup/HG collection it’s clear to see there’s a common thread throughout — “Fuck You”.
The expletive repeat pattern adorns multiple items in the range including the football tee, sweater, faux fur coat and web belt, and definitely makes a statement for whoever choses to wear it.
So where did the inspiration for the design come from?
The ‘Fuck You’ design is a homage to classic bodega bags, and the spirit of New York’s downtown punk scene.
Over the years the ‘Thank You, Have a Nice Day’ grocery bag has become something of a modern design classic that has inspired all sorts of tribute products, from Lauren DiCioccio's ‘Thank You’ designer tote bag to the contemporary art featured in Analia Saban’s 2016 ‘Paper or Plastic’ exhibition.
The design is a simple red font on a white background, which mirrors Supreme’s infamous box logo — an equally iconic symbol of New York’s retail scene.
A few blocks up the street from Supreme’s Lafayette Street store, you’ll find a strip called St. Marks Place that runs between legendary skate spots Astor Place and Tompkins Square Park.
Once described as “America’s coolest street”, the unassuming East Village block was the former epicentre of Manhattan’s underground scene — Andy Warhol’s nightclub Electric Circus was located here, and its former residents included Debbie Harry and William S Burroughs. The New York Dolls and Led Zeppelin shot album covers here, Jeff Buckley recorded his debut EP here and the street was also featured in scenes from Larry Clark’s seminal 90s movie Kids (which of course featured OG Supreme alumni).
A mainstay at the top end of St. Marks from 1975 until 2016 was the legendary rock’n’roll emporium Trash and Vaudeville. The first shop in NYC to sell Dr.Martins boots, punk bondage pants and leather biker jackets; the split level boutique was a hub for the local alternative music scene, with everyone from The Ramones to Patti Smith as regular customers.
A short stroll across the street from the old Trash and Vaudeville store still stands Search & Destroy, a Japanese-owned second-hand store, jam-packed with vintage punk clothing and memorabilia.
These two independent shops had many things in common (insanely loud music being one of them), one of which was their plastic shopping bags.
Over the years both stores have appropriated the classic ’Thank You’ plastic bodega bags to read ‘Fuck You,’ which has now been adopted for the new Supreme/Hysteric Glamour collection.
St. Marks Place was once the countercultural center of the East Village and home to punks, skate rats, artists and misfits. Hysteric Glamour even ran its New York store from this neighborhood for two years.
Due to inflated rents and inevitable gentrification, New York’s shortest street is nowadays not much more than a glorified food court, so it’s nice to see Supreme and Hysteric Glamour paying tribute to the history of a downtown landmark.
If you haven't already, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Supreme’s Latest Collaborator & Cult Japanese Brand Hysteric Glamour