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?