Arguably the most famous streetwear brand of all time, Supreme is a skate brand from New York. Founded by James Jebbia in 1994, since its launch the brand has grown to become a global icon of style and street culture, with collections and collaborations encompassing art, music, film, fashion and more.
Born in the USA but raised in England until he was 19, James Jebbia started out running the Union store in New York in 1989, followed by Stüssy’s New York flagship two years later. In 1994, while he was still working at Stüssy, he opened a small skate store on Lafayette Street, selling skate decks and hardware as well as simple apparel such as t-shirts and sweats.
Supreme is best known for its distinctive box logo. Inspired by the work of contemporary artist Barbara Kruger, its simple use of bold red and white text in Futura Oblique has become a mainstay of street fashion. Appearing on t-shirts, hoodies, outerwear, hats and more, any product featuring the box logo is guaranteed to sell-out in seconds.
Thanks to a number of converging instances, Supreme quickly grew in popularity; a solid reputation amongst downtown New York’s skate community, along with brief cameos in skate videos and Larry Clark’s seminal 1995 film Kids, established the brand as an authentic street label in NYC, whilst Japanese tourists coming from Tokyo’s burgeoning streetwear scene quickly caught on to the brand’s unique blend of cultural influences and uncompromised skate style, establishing it as a hyped brand on a par with the likes of Stüssy, X-LARGE, SSUR and A Bathing Ape.
It was overseas, in fact, where Supreme’s popularity really kicked off. In 1998, just four years after launching his brand, Jebbia opened Supreme’s first Japanese flagship in Tokyo’s trendy Daikanyama district. This would be followed by two more that year, gradually growing to 6 stores across the whole of Japan.
Though the brand’s status has been well-established in die-hard streetwear communities for many years, the rapid growth of the Internet over the past ten years has been a massive contributing factor to Supreme’s recent ascent to fame. Rumors of lines around the block awaiting new product, instant sell-outs and super-limited collaborations spread like wildfire through online forums and streetwear blogs, while the opening of the first Supreme online store in 2007 offered many fans of the brand outside New York and Japan their first glimpse of what the fuss was all about – of course, with the store being limited to US orders only, it was impossible for overseas fans to buy anything, but they were still able to watch the product sell out every Thursday.
Aside from the sprawling hype culture that follows Supreme wherever it goes, the brand is probably best known for its diverse and expansive collaborative releases. The brand treats their collaborations almost as an encyclopedia of New York history, global music, influential art and seminal moments in youth culture.
During the brand’s history, Supreme has collaborated with contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, musicians such as Miles Davis and Bad Brains, seminal New York figures like Malcolm McLaren and Rammellzee, as well as a slew of iconic fashion brands such as Timberland, Clarks Originals, The North Face, Vans, Thrasher and Air Jordan. Their original collaborative release with Nike SB arguably kick-started the Nike SB Dunk craze that followed over the next ten years, and their sneaker collaborations continue to be some of the most coveted footwear releases of all time.
In 2017, Supreme made history by announcing a collaboration with iconic French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The collection debuted at the label’s Fall/Winter 2017 presentation in Paris, and released in July of that year at a series of pop-up locations around the globe.