With every larger-name Supreme collaboration — and the digital division of every once-great magazine hopping on any streetwear moment like it’s having a mid-life crisis — there’s a faction out to declare the brand dead. “It’s not underground any more! It’s mainstream“, they bellow with their Facebook fingers. Then your cousins, kids and friend’s friends all descend on the store and demonstrate that it’s more popular than it ever was, thus contradicting those self-important declarations of obsolescence. One key complaint is that people want to say they were into Supreme when it was “underground”. It was certainly less prominent before (social media’s clout is undeniable), but let’s not act like the logo wasn’t featured in Vogue back when magazines really mattered, glimpsed at primetime on Absolutely Fabulous or on that chunky laptop in the almost-popular and instantly dated Hackers. Those were, of course, fleeting moments, but September 1999’s Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy PlayStation game — a Rockstar production — was absolutely riddled with Supreme.
On playing it late that year I was taken aback that the big in Japan box was on walls and an earned option as board or apparel sponsor alongside other credible brands like Zoo York (also quick to sell out in stores at the time), FTC or Think. Want a pixellated take on the motion logo board? It was yours if you could learn those intricate tricks. You could have a vast D-Wade size Supreme logo on the back of that tee or hoody too (it was nice when athletes weren’t haplessly trying to ride a stylist-assisted streetwear wave and dons like Allen Iverson both defined and reflected how the streets dressed on their own terms).
Skate and Destroy was much more difficult than the quick to pick up Tony Hawk offering, with the Southbank, Brooklyn Banks and Embarcadero locations and risk of a tasering at the hands of cops and moment on the magazine’s cover giving it a certain edge, but those sponsors made a lot of difference too — while the giant Converse shoes of the time have aged poorly and some of the newer big beat songs on the soundtrack were bad from the off (EPMD and Tribe made up for it though), that inclusion of legitimate coast to coast stores and companies was way ahead of its time. All of which begs the question — given the impact that later Tony Hawk instalments had on a generation’s tastes (much of today’s Soundcloud-hosted Percocet emo rap owes a debt to some degree), if Thrasher’s effort had been as much of a hit 18 years ago as Hawk or Rockstar’s more recognisable titles, in an alternate future, what would that have meant for the smaller companies it included?
You know what’s more useful than listening to another wearying roundtable about hype, collaborations or other streetwear-related matters? Listening to someone who has made it in that world who’s willing to discuss it on record. A lot of industry kingpins move in silence or were raised in an analogue world, so it’s strictly soundbites, and Eddie Cruz — the man behind Union LA, Stüssy LA/Las Vegas, Undefeated and Supreme LA — doesn’t tend to dwell on the past. Continue reading CRUZ CONTROL
Did somebody say Steep Tech? Seeing as Supreme have reissued The North Face’s Steep Tech jacket to bring back the spirit of 1991, it seems like a good excuse to link to imagery based around the coats right here. Continue reading A BIT STEEP
It’s lit, as in literature. This New York Times article about Supreme’s Paris opening mentions Supremacist, David Shapiro’s upcoming book that’s loosely based on his own quest to visit every one of the ten stores worldwide. Continue reading HYPE-LIT
Note: This was written for Sneaker News’ print project ages ago. I can’t quite recall whether it ended up in issue #2 in a truncated form or never ran at all. Browsing through it, I realised that my attitude has changed, but I couldn’t be bothered to make major amends this evening. Expect typos.
There are too many collaborations on the market. This isn’t just embittered old-timer talk, because positives currently outweigh negatives. There’s never been so much choice, information and opportunity when it comes to shoes and their connecting cultures. Continue reading COLLABORATIONS: THE RESPECT WAS MUTUAL
Given the pandemonium around the latest Supreme season’s offerings, it seems like a good time to look at some lesser-discussed pieces on the brand. The trouble with the internet is that most of the folks who were first seem to have vanished, taken down their sites or simply left behind by their early 2000s lack of search engine savvy. Continue reading MENDING A RIFT
There’s plenty of little moments scattered across publications that altered the course my career would take in one way or another. Back in mid 1998, The Face ran a ‘Fashion Hype’ (and hype would become a word attached to these objects like a particularly excitable Siamese twin in the decade that followed) piece on the newly opened Hit and Run store (which would be renamed The Hideout for presumed legal reasons by 2000). This two page spread was a rundown of things I’d never seen in the UK and sure enough never seen them with a pound price next to them. I immediately rushed out and asked a couple of Nottingham skate stores if they’d be getting any Ape, Supreme, GoodEnough or Let It Ride gear in, only to be met with a blank stare. lesson learnt: Kopelman had the hookups that the other stores didn’t. This Upper James Street spot was selling APC jeans for 48 quid, while Supreme tees were only a fiver less than they are now. The 1998 season when Supreme put out their AJ1, Casio, Champion tee, Goodfellas script design and Patagonia-parody jacket was particularly appealing, and it was showcased here, while SSUR keyrings, BAPE camo luggage and soft furnishings were a hint of things to come. I guarantee that once you made it to the store, a lot of the stuff that you assumed you could grab with ease would be gone — an early life lesson that hype just isn’t fair.