Supreme is a relatively new brand that has long been considered a ‘youth label’, but can it be categorized as a luxury brand?
Supreme certainly is a luxury brand, even if its apparel appeals mostly to young people. The brand regularly collaborates with iconic industry names, it offers products that are considerably expensive, and it’s an exclusive, sought-after label. Therefore, it ticks all the ‘luxury’ boxes.
Read on to learn more about Supreme, where the brand came from, and why it’s so popular today.
From Skater Brand To Supreme Fashion
When you think of luxury fashion, you might have visions of brands like Prada, Dior, or Louis Vuitton. These are industry giants, having been trading in one way or another for over one hundred years, in many cases.
They offer products that are exorbitantly expensive, often flaunted by only the richest celebrities. Their operating models ensure that there’s a constant scarcity of merchandise, and they’ll rely on die-hard fans to drive the popularity of their labels forwards.
However, in recent years a new and vibrant trend has emerged, which has seen ‘streetwear’ brands nipping at the heels of high-fashion labels. The best and most successful example of this is Supreme, a considerably young brand that has grown rapidly to become one of the most successful labels on the planet.
What started off as a skateboarding store in New York has grown exponentially to become a dominating force in the fashion industry. Supreme has constantly disrupted the entire market, forcing its way onto the scene and gathering a fanbase consisting of millions of people.
When Supreme was founded in 1994, it wasn’t revolutionary by any means. In the nineties, skateboarding was an extremely popular sport, and new brands offering ‘skater gear’ were popping up on a near-daily basis.
Supreme’s inaugural store was different, though – it was built to accommodate skaters zipping in on all four wheels, and the walls were plastered with unique art. Admittedly, it was a substantially slow start for Supreme, which took ten years to open a second store, this time in Los Angeles.
Today, Supreme boasts twelve brick-and-mortar locations, expanding to cover Paris, London, San Francisco, and six locations in Japan. Somewhat bizarrely, Supreme does better in Japan than any other country, where it has built up quite a cult following.
In 2020, this twenty-or-so-year-old skateboarding brand was purchased by the VF Corporation for two billion dollars, cash. At that point, it certainly seemed like the Supreme train wasn’t slowing down any time soon.
So, how exactly did a lone skateboarding store become a multi-billion dollar luxury fashion brand? It didn’t happen overnight, and the company’s founders have worked hard and developed a winning business formula that has worked for them for years.
Firstly, Supreme has always under-produced its merchandise, meaning there’s an immediate scarcity when products are launched. While they’re not extremely expensive at first, the resale value of these products can fly through the roof when they’re no longer available.
In fact, there’s a booming market for second-hand or resold Supreme products, with some limited edition items, such as collaboration pieces, commanding dramatically high values. There’s just something about the instantly-recognizable Supreme logo that drives young people mad.
Supreme regularly releases new products, and they’re often adorned with pop-cultural imagery and big, bold logos. If you’re not interested in Supreme for the status symbol, you’ll likely be swayed by the aesthetic appeal of the label itself.
Of course, popularity breeds popularity, and there’s no shortage of celebrities rocking Supreme gear on a regular basis. This in turn drives up the exposure for Supreme, and all those impressionable young adults jump at the opportunity to own something with the Supreme logo on it.
Ultimately, Supreme deliberately makes it difficult to obtain its products, and if there’s one thing fashion fans love, it’s having something other people don’t. When a new product launches from Supreme, fans are given the opportunity to ‘digitally queue’ for the item.
There are strict rules to play by when it comes to purchasing a brand new Supreme product. For example, one can only purchase one product per style – you can’t buy multiple variants of the same product.
These practices and the hype that constantly surrounds Supreme has effectively cemented it as a credible, luxurious brand. There are few labels as popular as Supreme right now, and it seems like that success is set to climb ever onwards and upwards.