Are you wondering why is Supreme so popular? If yes, you should check out our guide right here on the key things to understand.
Supreme is a household name—a global, tour de force in streetwear and urban fashion. Casual buyers (if they exist) are willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for simple graphic t-shirts, and the most devoted of customers will literally camp out in Black Friday-sized lines (overnight!) to cop the latest, exclusive grail or drop.
But why? What’s with the hype? Why is Supreme so popular? And how do they create such an immense gravitational brand loyalty with so many of us around the world?
Let’s start at the beginning.
A Brief ‘Preme History
In 1983, James Jebbia touched down in NYC and hit the ground running. He was 19, worked for a skate shop, and became a regular in the local scene. Over time, he got the chance to collab with the legendary brand, Stüssy, and grow his experience as a designer as well as build some clout as a credible name in streetwear.
Then, in April of 1994, Jebbia launched the first official Supreme storefront on Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan. It became a refuge for skaters and creatives and an incubator for innovators and forward-thinkers.
Staff members were also customers and local artists were a fixture—inspiring products and authentic brand experiences. The store was a reflection of the community and the culture around it.
Now, fast forward to 2020. Supreme has twelve brick-and-mortar locations (and counting) around the world: two in New York, one in San Francisco, LA, London, Paris, and six in Japan. In twenty-six years, Supreme hasn’t stopped growing, building, and winning.
How do they do it? By relentlessly and religiously going against the grain, staying creative, connected, collaborative, and doing whatever it takes to stay true to their roots and keep their authenticity alive.
A (R)Evolution in Streetwear Sales
In the past, the streetwear sales model was pretty typical. Like any other product for sale, streetwear followed the basic principle of supply and demand. Supply is limited for a certain sneaker, hoody, or jacket, so demand is high. As a result, production increases to meet demand.
For example, think of Jordans. Almost every year, for 34 years since 1985, Nike has released a brand new pair of Michael Jordan’s namesake sneaker. And, for the most part, streetwear enthusiasts across the planet (like us) have gone wild for nearly every launch (you can buy a pair here). And the same applies to equally “grailed” sneakers like the Nike Air Max and others.
Supreme saw that model and said “no.” And it might be genius.
Almost infamously, Supreme has fully committed to an extreme exclusivity model. They’re not in the business of making more product to meet demand. Instead, they make new and different products with each subsequent drop.
As a result of ignoring demand, Supreme has, whether unintentionally or not, magically infused all previously released t-shirts, jackets, and a variety of random items with wild rarity, which has successfully birthed an electric, rippling resale market.
And now, Supreme has effectually begun to cause a subtle, tricking shift and revolution within the streetwear industry with mega-brands like Yeezy and partner Adidas starting to adopt a similar brand strategy. This has created increased value and igniting incredible passion and love for products within the resale and collector communities.
A Recipe for Success: Creativity, Clout, and All-Star Collabs
From day one, Supreme has championed and cultivated a minimalistic, overtly, and unashamedly “street” vibe that’s nearly always heralded as undeniably cool. But it’s not just collectors and grail-obsessed customers who think so.
Because of the pervasive cool factor designed into every product as well as the aforementioned exclusivity of their products, Supreme has garnered an incredible amount of star-power to boost the allure of its brand.
From Kanye to Beiber and Drake, Supreme has managed to capture the eye and attention of the world’s biggest and most influential names. And that recognition has earned them a huge reputation in the fashion industry, yielding way to highly coveted collaborations with luxury brands like Commes de Garçons and Louis Vuitton as well as outdoor brands like The North Face.
And with every new drop, their appeal, for the most part, continues to grow.
Authenticity in a Sellout Age
It should be noted, though, that some of streetwear’s most devoted enthusiasts claim Supreme has become a caricature of itself. It’s so cool, it’s’ not cool. But for what it’s worth, the clothing brand has continued to evolve with each passing decade and sell out in actual milliseconds. The lines are still long, and Supreme’s resale value just keeps on climbing.
In the words of founder, James Jebbia, himself, “I guess the influence [for Supreme] was the people around the shop . . . They wouldn’t all wear just the typical stuff. It’s the way people would mix it up. And I think that’s really what we try to do . . . We just tried to make what we thought was the coolest [stuff] we could make.”
And, ultimately, they have. From ’94 until now, Supreme has maintained an insanely positive brand name and association with audiences, and, well, stayed true to their founding principles.
They’re still making cool clothes that appeal to a variety of aesthetic styles and still staying timeless. (Because let’s be real, that Raekwon shirt is still as fire as it was when it first released.)
Why Is Supreme So Popular?
So, what’s with the hype? Why is Supreme so popular across the world?
Well, the proof is in the name. When you successfully build a brand steeped in authenticity, creativity, and exclusivity, you effectively create a lifestyle for your customers. Something more than a simple clothing brand. And that’s the story of Supreme.
They’ve designed an identity for passionate drip, fit, and jawn enthusiasts that transcends place, time, and social circles. Ultimately, Supreme has created a community centered around a shared goal: buying, selling, and sharing certified grails that provide just a bit of added purpose to the everyday grind.
And whether you buy into the hype or not, you’ve got to admit: Supreme has stuck to their guns, done it right, and isn’t going anywhere for quite a while.