What is one of the most recognizable logos in fashion just became the biggest tabloid in New York City. Hot off the press, Supreme shocked commuters this morning as they walked past their local bodega to find the newsstand covered in a blanket of red box logos. After rumors circulated over the weekend, an unexpected collaboration between Supreme and the New York Post has officially come true. On Monday, the news publication dropped its latest paper with a Supreme front page advertisement.
The collaboration itself is impressive, but the cover’s minimal design is a cultural moment all of its own. The special promotional cover features the paper’s signature letterhead but forgoes the eye-catching headlines and photos of the day’s big news, sidelining them for a solo red Supreme box logo on white background. That’s it.
The streetwear brand released a video early on Monday morning to unveil the partnership, leading to fans searching the city at the crack of dawn to buy a newspaper. In 2018, that’s unheard of. Yesterday’s unveil was a spectacle to behold and already one of our favorite collabs of the year for its sheer brilliance. Here’s why.
Digital Media Meets Legacy Press
According to Yahoo! Finance, the New York Post is the fourth largest newspaper in the United States, with a circulation of 424,721. While it’s unclear how many of those subscribers pay for print or digital, anyone that’s been to New York knows how ubiquitous the fabled tabloid is.
With the newspaper available on practically every newsstand and bodega in the city, Supreme couldn’t have chosen a better New York-based legacy media publication to work with. The New York Times might seem like a more obvious and prestigious fit, but it’s unclear if the publication would ever go for a collaboration and the NYT wouldn’t necessarily fit the brand’s values in the first place, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Supreme for its part complemented the collaboration with a digital rollout of the full FW18 lookbook and collection preview, sending Reddit, Twitter, and blog comment sections into a frenzy of hype. Together, the one-two punch of the daily print circulation (plus the earned media that comes from rabid fans sharing the issue on social media) and Supreme’s digital offerings made for the kind of media attention most brands can only dream of.
Supreme didn’t just win the newsstand or the blogosphere this week, it won both. The brand broke New York City digitally and physically at the same time, and that couldn’t have happened without the New York Post.
It Could be Political
The New York Post is a Rupert Murdoch-owned, right-leaning newspaper that has lent its support to several of Donald Trump’s policies in the past. Compare and contrast that with Supreme, which recently donated a percentage of T-shirt sales to families affected by the president’s anti-immigration policies. In this year’s collection even, Supreme paid tribute to former Democrat president Barack Obama with a selection of colorful beanies.
Now, by plastering its logo over the Post’s front page, you could argue the skate brand has essentially taken a piss on a publication it stands ideologically opposed to. A bit like graffitiing a right-wing mural. In this dynamic, Supreme is the heretic interloper that has penetrated the establishment.
Additionally, Supreme would have been aware of how coveted the newspaper would be upon release. The fact that it’s managed to turn it into a commodity could be read as a veiled barb at Trump’s brand of capitalism.
Unchallenged Kings of the Resell Market = the Ultimate Flex
In a nutshell, Supreme is king of the resell market, and the aftermath of the paper rollout proves it. By noon, most newsstands in the city were sold out of the issue. By 12:30 p.m., the promo was already reselling online. Starting out with an initial cost of $1.50, resellers were now asking up to 10 times more. On eBay, the most popular copies were sold for less than $10. But others were selling for much larger amounts, including $20, $50, and even $85.
All of this proves what Highsnobiety staff writer Jonathan Sawyer was quoted as saying in the New York Times, that all the brand needs to do is “slap a Supreme logo on it, and it will fly off the shelves, literally no matter what it is.” It’s the ultimate flex and something Supreme doesn’t need to be vocal about for it to be obvious.
It Shines a Light on How Supreme Views Itself & Expresses Itself to the World
Perhaps the most subtle implication of this collaboration is that it shines a light on how Supreme thinks of itself and how it takes those thoughts and presents them to the world. Every single day of the week, commuting New Yorkers are confronted with the latest celebrity gossip, absurd crimes, and disgraced politicians smack dab on the front page of the latest New York Post. Simply put, it’s no accident that Supreme joins these ranks with this simple yet effective cover.
With controversial product releases and divisive campaigns practically part of its mission statement, Supreme has earned its place as an indelible part of New York culture, one worthy of praise, blame, ridicule, and fandom just like any run-of-the-mill New York Post cover.
It also raises the age-old question that has plagued Supreme from the start, but especially since the brand’s $1 billion valuation just under a year ago: is the brand the high-concept fashion-meets-art-meets-skating project that its most loyal fans claim it is? Or is it simply a cynical albeit brilliant marketing play on Supreme’s part that speaks to James Jebbia’s prescient knowledge of the current and future media landscape?
To answer this question and at least approach something like an answer, it’s worth drawing comparisons with another headline-stealing figure who did something eerily similar this year: Kanye West.
The recent recipient of a free Pornhub premium subscription made headlines months ago after turning to TMZ as a platform to “inadvertently” promote his upcoming album ye and rant about Donald Trump, the MAGA hat, and slavery. Many automatically discounted the seriousness of West’s thoughts on these subjects because of the outlet’s reputation, while others considered the move brilliant for its blurring of celebrity culture and for its skirting of traditional mainstream media. The decision to go straight to TMZ to vent seemed to be the culmination of everything West and, perhaps even more so, his wife’s family, the Kardashians, pioneered over the course of the last decade.
This dominance of the media largely reflects what West famously rapped on 2005’s “Bring Me Down”: “Everybody feel a way about K but at least y’all feel something.”
The same can now be said about Supreme and while there won’t ever be a consensus on what the brand is actually about and stands for (unless Jebbia for whatever reason comes out with it), we at least now have an idea of how Supreme views itself and how it amplifies its myth through unexpected collaborations with something such as a divisive tabloid newspaper.
It Gives Nearly Everyone (in New York at Least) the Chance to Finally Own a Supreme Product
Last but not least, the collaboration gives everyone (in the Big Apple at least) the chance to finally own a Supreme product. In comparison with this week’s run, last year’s MetroCard activation almost seems like a playful experiment. While that collaborative product was only available at a few subway stations across the city, Monday’s New York Post could be picked up at nearly every newsstand and bodega in the city — provided you were quick enough.
This time around, though, the collab was even more affordable and readily available, ensuring that everyone who wanted to get their hands on one could get their hands on one. With a collaboration of this size, it begs the question: what New York staple will get the red box logo treatment next time? “I love NY” mugs? Food carts? Taxi cabs? Why stop at NYC? What about sending Supreme to space or the deepest parts of the ocean?
To Infinity and Beyond
Regardless of where the red box logo ends up, one thing is clearer than ever: just when it seems Supreme has done all it can to get its name out and challenge widespread perceptions of it, it does what no one expects and keeps fans, new and old, guessing about what’s to come.
At this point, it’s impossible to deny Supreme’s influence on pop culture, and if the brand keeps outdoing itself and blurring the lines between art, skating, fashion, the mass market, and media, there’s no telling where it will end up. Whether or not you managed to cop the collaborative tabloid, it’s impossible to deny the brilliance of the partnership, both for its concept and its real-life effectiveness. There’s no telling what other brands will do in 2018, but it’s hard to count on anyone, even Supreme itself, topping the brand’s entry into FW18.
- Co-Author: Brock Cardiner