Supreme stickers…disposable promo items, or works of art?
Growing up as a young skateboarder, I always loved stickers. Throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, most of my Saturday afternoons and school holidays were spent between the skatepark and my local skate store, where my friends and I would hang out, chat shit and watch skate videos. Hanging out in the store was always a buzz, as we’d get to see all the new skate hardware, clothing, sneakers and magazines fresh from the US.
Unfortunately we were all broke kids back then, so buying clothing and skate gear on a weekly basis was hard. Here’s where stickers enter the picture. A skate sticker was a simple (and cheap) method of buying into our favorite new deck/t-shirt graphics without spending much cash. No visit to the skate store (shout-out to Rollermania in Bristol) was complete without flicking through the large photo album on the register that featured pages of stickers from the likes of Vision, Alva, Dogtown, SMA, Zorlac, etc.
These stickers were usually stuck straight on our boards (obviously soon to be scratched-off through skating), but some were saved to either stick on our school books, refrigerators, bedroom walls and BMX bikes, or simply just collect dust in a shoe box under the bed. Stickers have always been an essential part of skate culture — through sticker tosses at events/demos, complimentary inclusions with decks, and pros showing off their sponsors.
When Supreme opened the doors of their Lafayette Street skate store in downtown New York in April 1994, there was little-to-zero marketing budget for the shop. The internet was in its infancy back then and social media was non-existent, so they went about promoting their new venture via the traditional skateboard medium of shop stickers.
The shop's original stickers were pretty similar to the ones they still use 23 years later — the future classic Supreme box logo sticker was originally printed on thin paper with a thin white border around the now-iconic red rectangle. In the early days these Supreme stickers were handed out to pretty much every skate rat in downtown Manhattan, who spread the word using the streets of New York as a blank canvas.
The eye catching red-and-white Supreme box logo stickers were soon everywhere — on street signs, lampposts, traffic lights, railings, skate spots, boarded up walls and fire hydrants. It was an incredible organic “non-marketing" campaign as the logo of this little skate shop could soon be found all over the lower half of the city.
This outbreak of stickers even went on to inspire future products from the brand. At the time, the most prevalent adverts around Manhattan’s billboards and bus shelters was the Calvin Klein ‘Obsession’ campaign. Herb Ritts' black and white images of young British supermodel Kate Moss made for the perfect contrast to the bright red box logo that Supreme's crew strategically placed on it, so the logo appeared to be part of the original image. The placement of the sticker looked so good it was replicated all over town and there were soon very few CK promo posters that weren't touched by the Supreme box logo sticker.
When it came to celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2004, Supreme produced a special commemorative T-shirt featuring the original image of Kate Moss, complete with the red box logo placed as it was back then.
To say nowadays that Supreme has gone on to become a hot commodity is an understatement. Pretty much everything they produce creates feverish excitement, and that includes the humble sticker. What was once a throwaway promo item for skaters to stick on their boards has now become a collectible piece of artwork and there’s not many bigger collectors of Supreme stickers than 28 year old Andrew Jacques from the UK — aka @supstickers on Instagram.
With a 5,000-strong collection of Supreme stickers and over 21,000 Instagram followers, he continues to pursue his quest of collecting every Supreme sticker ever produced. I caught up with Andrew to find out more about his obsession.
Hi Andrew, how long have you been obsessed with stickers?
Obsessed is a strong word, as sometimes I loath the bloody things! But I’ve generally always had a sticker collection being a skateboarder from an early age. I guess I treated my stickers like other kids treated Pokemon cards — my friends and I would trade doubles and talk about which to use on boards or stickers we wanted to get.
Were you introduced to Supreme via skateboarding?
Yeah, skateboarding opened me up to a lot of different cultures and inspirations in life, including Supreme.
I was skating a local park and some of the older skaters were ripping, I spotted a Supreme box logo sticker plastered across one of their decks, so being a cheeky kid I asked a few questions and that was it. The guy said it was really hard to get any of it in the UK so he had the sticker sent from a friend in America, which at the time seemed like a mission!
A few years went by until I copped my first Supreme item from eBay — an olive camp cap, which came packaged with a red box logo sticker and bag.
I didn't really buy any more Supreme stuff until the London store opened in 2011, then it was kinda on for me! I remember getting the Union Jack box logo, an ashtray and the red metal lock box.
Out of all the items Supreme produce, why collect the stickers?
I collect a bit of everything really... At one point I had loads of Supreme accessories which took over a whole section of my house. Most of these went unused and seemed kinda pointless so I sold most of them.
Having a bit of cash spare from the accessories sale I sought out some of the more expensive Supreme stickers I'd wanted and managed to purchase the Sean Cliver box logo sticker set from 2008. I'd loved his designs but never able to find the decks, so stickers where my way of having something tangible from that collection.
Then it all kinda clicked, collecting the stickers from each drop gave me a bit of everything from the season without spending out on all the clothes. Acquiring the back catalogue was going to be, and still is, the challenge!
When did you realise you were actually building up a collection of stickers and what was the moment that made you want to collect them all?
I was posting a lot on Facebook groups looking to buy stickers, or trade my doubles, and someone asked for a collection photo. As I was laying them all down on my living room floor for the photo, I realized I had run out of room. It eventually took me three floors full until I had captured my entire collection!
So after five years of collecting Supreme stickers, how many do you currently own?
I'd say around 150 different design box logo stickers and nearly 1,000 other Supreme stickers. If you take into account my doubles and triples then the whole collection runs into multiple thousands!
Have you made a list of every sticker Supreme have ever produced so you can work towards completing your goal of owning a comprehensive collection?
Nah, that realization is too much for now… I kinda know what I have left to find and ones I'm probably never going to own!
How close are you to achieving that?
It will never end as the new season collections and new collaborations bring new stickers. I see myself following Supreme as I get older, as I like the fact the brand caters for this kinda transitional fashion exploration you can take — massive logos to simple plain tees, loud color Nikes to more sophisticated collaborations with Doc Martens. I see Supreme as a skate brand who understands that we're not always on a skateboard!
How do you store or display your vast collection?
I like the stickers to be shown so I get them out to take photos for Instagram etc.
Originally I stored them all in the 2011 lock box but the collection soon outgrew that. Supreme did me a sterling one this year by releasing those storage boxes as part of their S/S17 season - they are basically the perfect sticker storage tins!
If you take into account my doubles and triples then the whole collection runs into multiple thousands!
How do you go about acquiring your older stickers?
Scour and search the internet! I’ve been lucky a few times when finding someone that doesn't really care about the stickers they own but appreciates my collection, so they hook me up. Sometimes I offer to buy out whole collections just to get one or two stickers I want because the seller won't split.
I’ve met a few really solid collectors that I've traded stuff with that we both need. Because they also know how it feels to be looking for that one sticker to finish a set, we look out for each other across all the various market places.
What’s the highest price you’ve paid for a single Supreme sticker?
Recently I paid £100 for a black grip tape box logo sticker including shipping to the UK from USA. I looked for it for quite a while as it was pain in the ass to find! A lot of the gems are either in Japan or America due to both the heritage of the brand and the fact these locations hosted Supreme stores for longer than the UK, so that means they have a more fruitful market.
What is the highest price you’ve sold stickers for in order to purchase new stickers for your collection?
I remember one American collector had an envelope with me for about six months and he was just buying box logo stickers from me to fill it. At the end of the six months he had spent over £1,000 but the collection was solid!
Individual stickers depends on what the person wants to pay and how much it's desired for their collection. I recently sold a 2006 Lichtenstein box logo sticker for £80! The 2001 monogram box logo stickers sell for around £110 each since the official collaboration with Louis Vuitton came out this year.
What would you say is the estimated value of your sticker collection?
The value often fluctuates with what a collector would pay for a specific sticker. That being said, my Supreme box logo sticker collection alone is probably into the £6,000 mark.
What’s your favorite Supreme sticker in your collection?
All the Sean Cliver stickers as he's my favorite artist that Supreme's worked with. I’ve always been a fan from his as he was the illustrator behind many of the skate brands I grew up with.
What’s the most valuable Supreme sticker in your collection?
I'd say the full set of scrapped LV stickers featuring the Playboy bunny within the monogram, and the royal blue paper box logo stickers — I’ve had offers of £350+ ($398) for each of those mentioned.
What are the most sought-after stickers you wish to add to your collection?
I’m currently looking for a red FTP crest, all the camouflage paper box logos, a light blue motion logo, a green motion mini, public enemy mini, and two Lowdown minis - that lot would complete a few sets so please holla if you have them!
Do you purchase much other Supreme stuff as well as stickers?
Yeah I purchase something most weeks. In the last few seasons I’ve been buying staple bits and more collaborations, stuff I know I'll wear or use generally!
The quality of Supreme items leaves other brands in the background for me – the weight and fit of the hoodies for example has always been a turning point for me, other skate brands just seem inferior in comparison.
What made you set up an Instagram account dedicated to your Supreme stickers collection?
It started as a way of me showcasing my collection and keeping track of stuff that I had (or needed) so others could offer me stuff I was missing. It’s also a way of compiling all the info for each sticker. I listed a few spare stickers for sale and they sold...from then on it just snowballed!
It seems to have quickly grown to over 21K followers in a short time, how have you achieved that?
Regularly giving back to the community via giveaways, selling items at decent prices, and showcasing interesting content. I'd built up a reputation from being an admin on a Supreme community Facebook page so my feedback post was already impressive.
Do you also collect other skate stickers or is it just Supreme?
Yeah I’ve got a lot of non-Supreme stickers so I started a second Instagram account called @adhesiveartdealer to showcase these – I’m uploading one sticker a day!
With Supreme releasing multiple stickers at the start and throughout each season, do you see this ever ending?
Nah, I’ve got a solid following who are always helpful and I don't see it ending anytime soon! It's like any collection out there - once you’re this interested and invested in something, you’re gonna see it out!
Would you ever do something with your collection once you’ve decided it’s at a peak?
I'd love to be able to exhibit the stickers but that’s something I’ve never thought about really. My one goal was to create a book detailing each years sticker releases and some of the influences behind the designs but that's a long way off yet!
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