James Jebbia moves from England to New York and helps run Union NYC before moving on to Stüssy.
While still working at Stüssy, Jebbia opens the first Supreme store. The clothing is arranged around the perimeter so skaters can ride inside comfortably.
A second Supreme store opens in the fashionable Daikanyama-district in Tokyo after years of interest in the brand by Japanese tourists in New York. Within the same year, two more Japanese stores are opened in Osaka and Fukuoaka.
Years before their high-profile collab, Supreme illegally uses the Louis Vuitton monogram for a collection of skateboard decks, T-shirts, and beanies. The French fashion house takes legal action to have the collection taken out of circulation.
The first Supreme collab with The North Face drops. It’s so successful that their partnership turns into an annual collection.
The brand continues to collaborate with a number of big brands including Lacoste, Dr. Martens, Timberland, and Jordan. A collection with Nike has the New York launch canceled by the NYPD hours before it drops because of unruly crowds outside. In the same year, the resell market for Supreme blooms as products begin to sell for 10 times the original selling price.
17 years after illegally using their logo, Supreme officially collaborates with Louis Vuitton. Their debut collection is unveiled during Paris Fashion Week and as the collection is released around the world, the items blow up on the resell market with T-shirts selling for over $1,500. Alongside this unprecedented collection is the news that Supreme has sold 50 percent of its stake to the private equity firm Carlyle Group. It’s estimated that the price of this sale is around $500 million.
Supreme wins the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Menswear Designer of the Year Award.
Born in the USA but raised in England until he was 19, James Jebbia was earning his streetwear stripes years before he began the brand. He ran the Union Store in New York in 1989 before moving on to Stüssy’s New York flagship two years later. While still at Stüssy, Jebbia opened the first Supreme store in an old office space on Lafayette Street. Designed with skaters in mind, the store put clothing racks around the perimeter of the store so the central space allowed skaters with backpacks to ride into the store comfortably. Cementing it as a downtown skate fixture were the store’s first team members: a group that included Justin Pierce and Harold Hunter from Larry Clark’s seminal 1995 film Kids.
Even if you’ve never touched a piece of Supreme merch, you probably know the infamous red box logo—but that wasn’t the first Supreme logo. When the first store opened in 1994, Jebbia sold a range of other merch as well as one line of T-shirts that featured a very simple Supreme logo his friend had designed. It wasn’t until that shirt began to sell out that Jebbia lent his friend a book by New York conceptual artist Barbara Kruger to inspire a new logo. Thus, the rebellious, propaganda-inspired logo in Futura Heavy Oblique font was born.
Part of Supreme’s worldwide appeal has been their expansive collaborations with artists, musicians, brands, and, on one occasion, Kermit the Frog. They have released specialty merch with contemporary artists Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst; musicians Miles Davis and Bad Brains; and fashion brands that include Timberland, The North Face, Air Jordan, and Louis Vuitton. In recent years, they’ve even slapped their logo on bricks, crowbars, a gas-powered Coleman mini bike, and Everlast punching bags.
Supreme didn’t become the world’s biggest streetwear brand without some savvy business flexing. Though you can always count on the next Supreme drop to come on Thursdays to their physical stores around the world, the brand sends nowhere near enough merch to keep up with demand, which is why hundreds of hypebeasts line up around the block to get their hands on the latest Supreme merch. This also helps explain why Supreme clothing is so expensive. Many of the customers are buying for the lucrative resale market, which has seen a plain white T-shirt with a mashed up LV x Supreme logo go from $485 in-store to more than $2,500 online.