WORDS BY: Clayton Christenson
Fam, I would like to take a moment to discuss with you the decline of a close friend to you, me and more recently Kylie Jenner. After exhibiting a battery of problematic symptoms including staleness, media saturation, bloating, and hilariously un-lit drops, it has begun to become apparent that your favorite streetwear "juggernaut" has become the victim of its own hype.
While you may yell with righteous indignation that I dare to impune the Gawd of all Jawnz, at least let me try to defend myself for a quick sec. First thing to do is head on back to 1994 and the label's inception in New York. Picture a crew that's a combination of Ass Pizza's steez (but minus all the social media bullshit) mixed with the cast of the movie Kids (long live the goat) and you've got an idea of these boys' collective persona. They were cool when youth culture was yet untarnished by the Holga filter, Crying Jordan memes, and ever-present anxiety of whether your shit is doing numbers...in other words they were actually cool. Skating mattered, being punks mattered, and hustle mattered. Their attitude was so "fuck you" that they didn't even bother making their own art. The box logo was originally the design from Barbara Kruger, and most of their other designs were ripped from other labels such as Gucci and Benetton. I cannot stress this enough fam, they didn't give a fuck about anything except skating.
In 2010 the makeup of Supreme's clientele received its biggest augmentation to date with the release of Tyler's Yonkers video. In the video he's seen eating and generally fucking around with live cockroaches, its gross and awesome, and he's wearing a Supreme hat. At the time he, Earl, and the rest of Odd Future were the biggest names in alt-youth culture, as well as the first generation of #CoolTeensTM, and their support of Supreme skyrocketed it's proliferation.
At the time, the generation of skaters/Proto-hypebeasts who had first supported the brand were immediately incensed at Odd Future's free advertising, because it meant that they're audience had been meshed with that of OF; a brood of mostly white suburban boys. Defo not ideal. The tru-fam Supreme hypebeasts were sure that the support of Tyler's gang would ultimately mean that the brand's identity would be diluted to the point of, essentially, impotence. It would lose its edge and suffer a fate similar BEENTRILL: an over-crowded Pac Sun sale shelf (*cough* F.O.G. *cough*).
While those who looked down their noses at Supreme's new demographics were wrong that the process of brand corrosion would happen immediately, it is the opinion of the author that they were ultimately correct. Yonkers-era celebrity endorsement meant exposure yes, but it had not yet burgeoned into the Gram/Snap-fueled Kardashia-verse that we're ineluctably swimming in today. Hype culture now, as it is informed by Hypebae, Highsnobiety, Who What Wear, etc., has become a force able to handily hi-jack brand identity and awareness at a moment's notice. Supreme being caught in this slipstream means that the bulk of its audience at this point associates it MUCH more readily with Kylie Jenner's snapchat, J-Beibs, and probably even our good good buddy Jake Woolf, than with its original crew of New York skate rats.
Problem with this explosion in endorsement is that it can also vanish as quickly as it appeared. When the next several brands like Palace and ASSC come down the pipeline, the hype cycle will move on according to the whims of the rich and famous. When viewed in conjunction with the way that Supreme's new celebrity friendly identity has alienated many of its most devoted fans, the very real precariousness of its current position becomes apparent.
If it were up to me, I'd pull the brand back. I'd make less, I'd charge less, I'd go back to the OG styles; the bare bones. I would manage the hype and deny some of it for the sake of retaining its original ethic, the ethic and attitude originally responsible for its rise to power. It seems that the best thing the brand could possibly do for itself is to reassert its original "fuck you" attitude that made it so appealing in the first place...and also, at the end of the day, only boobs give a fuck about brand identity.