Supreme has sold to VF Corp — the parent company of The North Face, Vans, Timberland, Eastpak, Napapijri and Dickies — VF Corp confirmed to Highsnobiety.
The acquisition — reported to exceed $2.1 billion — follows a long-standing relationship between Supreme and VF Corp, with Supreme being a regular collaborator with multiple of VF Corp-owned brands including The North Face, Vans and Timberland.
VF Corp, bought the American cult skateboard brand from private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP, which in October 2017 purchased 50 percent of the brand for roughly $500 million, valuing the streetwear label at nearly $1 billion.
“We’re proud to join VF, a world-class company that is home to great brands we’ve worked with for years, including The North Face, Vans, and Timberland. This partnership will maintain our unique culture and independence, while allowing us to grow on the same path we’ve been on since 1994,” said Supreme’s founder James Jebbia.
Steve Rendle, VF Corp’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, added: “VF is the ideal steward to honor the authentic heritage of this cultural lifestyle brand while providing the opportunity to leverage our scale and expertise to enable sustainable long-term growth. The acquisition of the Supreme brand is further validation of our vision and strategy to further evolve our portfolio of brands to align with the total addressable market opportunities we see driving the apparel and footwear sector.”
VF Corp said the acquisition would give Supreme the "opportunities to leverage its global supply chain, international platforms, digital capabilities and consumer understanding." It wouldn't, it added, limit Supreme to strictly work collaboratively with brands within the VF portfolio, allowing it to continue the collaboration strategy to include unorthodox partnerships as seen in recent years and have included everyone from Supreme-branded Crest toothpaste and Braun to New York's metro network MTA and Coleman mini bikes. In part, Supreme will provide VF Corp with deeper access to attractive consumer segments that apply to many of VF’s existing brands.
Justifying the industry-changing acquisition, VF Corp explains how Supreme offers a $1 billion global opportunity over time through international and direct-to-consumer expansion, all of which are core pillars of the conglomerate's 2024 strategy. In fiscal year 2022, VF says it expects Supreme to contribute at least $500 million of revenue.
Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor at the NPD Group, however, is cautious, "The streetwear market is based on scarcity [and] scarcity and growth are oppositional," he says.
Bigger than Supreme alone, VF's big bet on the skate brand signifies the growing business, and structurally attractive category, streetwear continues to prove it is. According to projections by VF Corp, the global streetwear market size clocks in around $50 billion, growing double digits at CAGR (compound annual growth rate).
Regardless of opponents of Supreme who have called the brand too commercial, and have discredited it for "selling out", for many young consumers, Supreme remains a brand worth investing in — both as a cultural credible status symbol and for its often high resale potential for many of its buzzy collabs.
Part of Supreme's enduring brand loyalty lays in its early understanding of the power of "social influence" where unlike most luxury and mass consumer brands, expensive celebrity endorsements and glossy advertisements are traded in for the more engaging marketing power of its own community. From its organic long-standing relationship with its skaters, local cultural figures and even influential shoppers at its handful of brick-and-mortar stores around the world, Supreme continues to drive "social influence" across every touch point where it interacts with its audience, whether it be via its ecommerce shop, in person, or on its social channels (its main IG channel has 13.8 million followers alone). The countless Facebook and Instagram fan accounts, and Reddit threads dedicated to Supreme's latest drops, are testament to the label's continued fan support, regardless of it losing some fans along the way.