WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
Supreme has played a key part in shaping the contemporary fashion landscape with its surefire strategy based on limited drops, writ-large branding and dare-to-be-different attitude. In short, ‘hype fashion’ probably wouldn’t exist without Supreme.
To celebrate Supreme’s upcoming 27th birthday, we take a moment to appreciate founder James Jebbia, the demiurge of hypebeast culture, and his brand’s multidimensional archive. For your convenience, we stock Supreme right here on FARFETCH, too.
Supreme: The Origin
James Jebbia, founder of Supreme, wasn’t always based in New York City – in fact, he was raised in the UK. Born to a British mother and American father, the family relocated from the US to Crawley, West Sussex, when James was just a year old.
While growing up in England, Jebbia pursued an acting career – starring in shows such as Grange Hill and Just William for British TV channels. But as soon as he turned 19, the young creative returned to his roots and moved back to NYC.
Once the aspirational teen settled into his Staten Island apartment, he secured a job at SoHo skate store Parachute. It’s this job that inspired him to start selling goods on a market stall and to eventually open his own store, Union NYC. Here, Jebbia sold a variety of brands from predominantly English designers – he also got to network with a community of like-minded people, one of which was streetwear designer, Shawn Stussy.
In 1991, Jebbia set up a meeting to acquire Stüssy stock for Union NYC. But in a turn of events, Shawn convinced Jebbia to help set up and subsequently run his New York City Stüssy Chapter store. Jebbia stayed with Stüssy until 1994, when Shawn sold his stake in the eponymous brand to partner Frank Sinatra Jr. (no, not that one).
At the age of 31, Jebbia went on to launch skatewear brand Supreme. He set up a shop on Lafayette Street in SoHo Manhattan: the inner-city hub of the skatewear scene at the time. The store immediately recruited a cult following that became obsessed with the brand’s instantly recognisable logo.
Supreme's box logo (often referred to as a ‘bogo’) features a heavy oblique Futura font inside a vivid red rectangle – but, of course, you already know that. What you might not be aware of is that the logo was a patent imitation of conceptual artist Barbara Kruger's work. And while this may have been the first time Supreme took inspiration from another creative, it certainly wasn’t the last.
Since the mid-’90s, Supreme has enjoyed continued success, collaborating with brands such as The North Face, Nike, Louis Vuitton and Stone Island, plus artists including Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst. The brand, still helmed by Jebbia, has 12 stores around the world, each of which consistently sells out minutes after it drops a new collection.
Continue reading to discover some of the most coveted pieces from the Supreme archive.
Supreme: The Archive
Supreme Archive: Hero Pieces
Supreme x Nike Dunk High Pro Sneakers
The Nike Dunk is in its element once again. Consequently, interest around the Supreme x Nike Dunk High Pro collab from 2003 – complete with croc-patterned leather and star patterns – has surged dramatically. Our favourite colourway? (Thanks for asking.) It's got to be the Syracuse-inspired orange.
Supreme x The North Face Logo Mountain Jacket
When Supreme and The North Face unite, the result is always fire. Take a look at this 2020 edition S Logo Mountain jacket, for example. It’s loud, yet versatile; youthful, yet suitable for all ages. What’s not to love?
Supreme Nasty Nas T-Shirt
Supreme has been creating portrait T-shirts since its inception. In fact, the first – starring Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver character, Travis Bickle – was released on the opening day of the OG Supreme store. In 2017, Supreme teamed up with legendary rapper Nas to create the Nasty Nas portrait design. As usual, the artist is donning one of the brand’s classic red-box logo tees.
Supreme x New Era Box Logo Beanie
As streetwear aficionados will know, Supreme’s box logo is always on trend. Thus, a garm featuring the logo is a sensible investment. For its FW18 collection, Supreme collaborated with headwear brand New Era on a collection of ‘bogo’ beanies, which are still highly sought after to this day.
Supreme x Stone Island Hoodie
Stone Island brought its gritty, urban aesthetic to Supreme back in 2019. The standout piece? A versatile grey hoodie. A slight departure from Supreme's usual designs, the subtle piece appealed to style-savvy crowds beyond the brand’s staunch clientele.
Supreme x Champion Joggers
In 2019, Supreme enhanced the ultimate wardrobe staple, Champion joggers. The unfussy black track pants are branded with the word Supreme and an XL version of the Champion logo, both remixed with a Y2K-inspired metallic sheen.
Supreme x Comme des Garçons Split Logo T-Shirt
Comme des Garçons put an avant-garde twist on Supreme’s quintessential box-logo tee back in 2018. Essentially, the stalwart brand split Supreme’s logo in half and dispersed the segments across the T-shirt. Available in black or white, this Supreme tee is simple yet stylish enough to level-up any look.
Supreme x Louis Vuitton Logo Hoodie
In 2017, the lines between streetwear and high fashion officially blurred with the launch of the Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration. Designed by Kim Jones – LV’s menswear director from 2011 to 2018 – the collection was vivid in red, loud with logos and high in quality. Unsurprisingly, it sold out in seconds – including this conspicuous logo hoodie.
Supreme Archive: Hype Accessories
Supreme Chucky Doll
One of the most ‘out there’ home accessories Supreme has ever sold is the Supreme Chucky doll. Yes, as in the main antagonist from Child’s Play. Packaged in a classic toy box and dressed in Supreme-branded dungarees, the plastic figurine is the ultimate hypebeast horror collectable.
Supreme x Rimowa Topas Multiwheel Suitcase
The Supreme x Rimowa suitcase is the beau idéal of travel accessories. Constructed with Rimowa’s signature ribbed aluminium, executed in Supreme’s trademark red hue, the suitcase is sure to draw the eye of all fellow travellers.
Supreme Box Logo Memo Book
Missed out on yet another box-logo tee? Join the club. So, let’s consider instead this ‘bogo’ memo book. Not only is it an aesthetically-pleasing addition to any creative workspace, but it’s also likely to come in handy when the need to take notes arises.
Supreme x Advanced Elements Packlite Kayak
We're not sure how the Supreme x Advanced Elements collab came about, but we’re here for it. The Supreme-red packlite kayak – complete with a branded paddle, repair kit, mesh carry bag and pump – allows hypebeasts to keep up their stylish reputation while out on the water. Yes, true fans really are that dedicated.