How Supreme went from a small skateboarding store to a billion-dollar streetwear company (2022)

  • Supreme was once a small skateboarding store in New York City. Now, it's a billion-dollar company well known for its presence in the fashion industry.
  • The retail value of Supreme's clothing isn't that outlandish, but once the items sell out, they begin to increase in value.
  • Supreme under-produces to the demand, creating a huge resale market and exclusivity associated with the brand.

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(Video) How Supreme Built A Billion Dollar Brand Empire

Shopper 1: Supreme, baby!

Shopper 2: I just bought a faux-fur jacket for $1,000, so.

Shopper 3: People want to know, "Hey, look, that guy's wearing Supreme." But people also make a living off it too, so.

Narrator: These two jackets are nearly identical, both made by The North Face, and both using Gore-Tex technology. This one on the left costs $300. The one on the right is currently selling for nearly $1,300. So what's the difference?

This one just happens to be a North Face collaboration with Supreme. So why would someone pay nearly a thousand dollars more for basically the same jacket? And what is it that makes Supreme so expensive?

From the eye-catching logo to the limited product releases and artist collaborations, over the past 20 years, Supreme has transitioned from a small skateboarding store in New York to a $1 billion streetwear company. But for its fans, Supreme is more than just a brand. It's often an obsession and an entire subculture of its own.

Since its origin, Supreme has maintained an image of being authentic. Founded by James Jebbia in 1994, Supreme started as a skateboarding store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. The store started out selling hoodies and sweatshirts aimed towards the burgeoning New York skate scene.

Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, Supreme functioned as a skate brand catering to both skaters and those interested in the emerging streetwear style. But Supreme's limited releases and attitude has pushed them far beyond their beginnings.

(Video) How Supreme Became a Global Streetwear Icon

The most iconic Supreme design is their box logo, originally, simple white, italic lettering over a plain red background. This design so closely echoes the work of conceptual artist Barbara Kruger that it is hard not to see it as a direct copy, and copyright theft is something that's in Supreme's DNA.

Supreme's appropriation of images is one of the keys to its popularity. Pop-cultural imagery and logos are copied and adapted in a way that makes the designs feel more like contemporary art or graffiti than a big fashion brand. Supreme's first branded T-shirt was simply a photo of Robert De Niro in the film "Taxi Driver" along with the iconic red-and-white logo. And the company's use of often unlicensed imagery has led to Supreme being served cease-and-desist letters from Louis Vuitton, the NHL, and the NCAA.

Dimitrios Tsivrikos: The more we've been exposed to a brand, the more likely we are gonna be developing an association, a familiarity, almost a sense of connection with it. With Supreme, there's no element of status, and they went completely for what a logo should be all about: standing out, being identifiable.

Narrator: The recognizability is key to Supreme's power as a brand. But the items are also purposefully difficult to get ahold of, and their products are kept in high demand by very limited releases.

Chris Magnaye: Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., you go to the Supreme website, you enter your basic information: your name, email, phone number, and credit-card number. Then, they'll send you a text later in the day to let you know if you've been selected to stand in line. Then on Wednesday, they'll send you a text telling you the time and store to report to. And on Thursday, you go to the store at the time that you're given.

There's a one-limit-per-style rule in Supreme, so what that means is, if a shirt comes out in black, red, and gray, you can only get it in gray. So if I want it in black and red, I need to get two other people to get it for me, so they need to stand in line for me. A lot of the people who do stand in line are standing in line for someone else.

(Video) How a Duracell Worker Invented Supreme with His Last $100

Narrator: Supreme only sells their merchandise at 11 brick-and-mortar stores across the world as well as their online store. It was around the mid to late 2000s that Supreme really started to pick up speed. This success was partly due to what's been dubbed the "Kanye effect."

In 2006, Supreme released their Supreme Blazer SB, a collaboration with Nike. The shoes retailed for around $150, with resale prices ranging from $300 to $400. In July 2007, West was pictured wearing the shoes at the Grammy Foundation's Starry Night party. After the photos were released, the resale price of the shoes doubled to $800.

Similarly, the teal box-logo sweatshirt worn by Tyler, the Creator in his "She" music video, originally priced at around $150, sold for $3,500. But not everything from Supreme is gonna end up being valuable. Sellers like Chris have to decide what's going to be popular and what items will give them the best return.

Chris: So how I decide on what I think is gonna resell is based mainly on what I would wear. You can also go to these Instagram accounts, and they'll have Instagram polls, Twitter polls, talking about, oh, like you can up-vote this, you can down-vote this, and it's this crowdsourcing tool to understand the market better and find out, oh, this one's gonna resell, or this one is really popular. The most money that I've made off of one Supreme item is the 2017 fall/winter collaboration with The North Face, and it was a mountain parka. I bought it for $398, and I sold it for $950.

Narrator: This incredibly limited release means that buying and reselling Supreme items is where the real money is. When you look at the prices of Supreme items in-store, they aren't as outlandish as you may expect. They retail for around $38 for a T-shirt to $138 for a sweatshirt. But it's once these products have sold out that they can reach 30 times their original price.

Many other big brands are now adopting this method of very limited releases to generate hype around their products, from trainers to other streetwear brands. These releases make people feel like they're part of something exclusive.

(Video) Why Supreme Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Dimitrios: The more we make a consumer work for their particular access to a product, the more alluring these services and products are becoming. So I think Supreme know very well how to make something incredibly accessible and sexy by allowing us to jump through as many hoops as possible to make it relevant for them.

Narrator: But there's something about Supreme that's different. Could any other company get away with selling a brick or a branded crowbar? What is it that gives Supreme such a devoted following?

Shopper 1: I think it's the hype. They come out with really cool items. I personally feel like they do. It's a name brand, and name brands attract anybody at the end of the day.

Shopper 3: In New York especially, it's a lot of streetwear. So people want to have those exclusive items. So I feel like Supreme, they keep their quantities very low because of the high demand. People will pay that price if it's something they like.

Shopper 2: Supreme, I think the thing that really causes people to spend money and wait in line is kind of the "it factor" that it has, right? They've done an amazing job of limiting quantities and under-producing to the demand. So in that way, their market of people that would want to buy the product isn't just people that are interested in the product, but it's also people that are interested in making money, and that demographic is way bigger than people that are just interested in streetwear. So when there's an opportunity to make money, then there's gonna be a huge line of people around the block regardless if they want to wear the product or not.

Narrator: Supreme has managed to somehow keep their cool, alternative, and exclusive image despite their expansion and has still maintained its skater credentials despite selling a 50% stake in the brand to a private equity firm. With more and more people wanting their products, for now, it looks like Supreme isn't going anywhere.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2019.

FAQs

How did Supreme become so successful? ›

Celebrities, especially those from the hip hop culture have also helped to generate word of mouth for the brand with celebrities such as A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator and Kanye West wearing the brand. Once more and more hip-hop fans saw their favourite artists wearing Supreme it expanded Supreme's each.

How did Supreme built a billion dollar brand empire? ›

And with no paid marketing whatsoever breem has grown from a small underground streetwear brand into

Why is Supreme so much money? ›

Because Supreme's products are in limited editions and extremely demanded, some resells can reach up to 30 times their original price. Supreme x Louis Vuitton was the brand's most significant and notable collaboration in streetwear history.

Is Supreme still a skate brand? ›

Supreme is an American clothing and skateboarding lifestyle brand established in New York City in April 1994. The brand is targeted at the skateboarding and hip hop cultures, and youth culture in general. The brand produces clothes and accessories and also manufactures skateboards.

When did Supreme become popular? ›

It was around the mid to late 2000s that Supreme really started to pick up speed. This success was partly due to what's been dubbed the "Kanye effect." In 2006, Supreme released their Supreme Blazer SB, a collaboration with Nike. The shoes retailed for around $150, with resale prices ranging from $300 to $400.

What celebrity made Supreme popular? ›

Here are some of the most famous poster ad campaigns Supreme have run over the years: Raekwon & Elmo, 2005. Dipset's Jim Jones & Juelz Santana, 2006. Mike Tyson, 2007.
...
Their clothing can be seen on high profile celebrities such as:
  • Lady Gaga.
  • Kanye West.
  • Drake.
  • Kate Moss.

Where did Supreme steal their logo from? ›

But intellectual property theft is in its DNA. The white Futura on a red box logo is “inspired” by 72-year-old artist Barbara Kruger, who uses an identical text treatment to collage anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian maxims over 1950s advertising-style black-and-white photographs.

How much money is Supreme? ›

Supreme, a streetwear brand with 12 stores and a cult following, is being sold to the parent company of Vans and Timberland in a deal that valued the apparel company at roughly $2.1 billion.

Who currently owns Supreme? ›

The Supreme brand offers a $1bn global opportunity over time through international and direct-to-consumer (DTC) expansion, which are said to be the core pillars of VF's 2024 strategy. With the completion of the deal, Supreme has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of VF Corporation.

Is Supreme still worth money? ›

Reselling Supreme is still very popular and profitable for online sellers. In the last 90 days, there were over 11,000 completed sales of Supreme products on eBay alone. The most expensive item sold during that time was a Supreme X North Face jacket for $5,250, which retailed for $398.

Does Supreme still sell out? ›

While many of Supreme's pieces still sell out rapidly online at 11 a.m. each Thursday, the amount of stock still left over in the minutes, hours, and days after is also remarkable when compared to past drops.

How rich is the owner of Supreme? ›

James Jebbia net worth: James Jebbia is an American entrepreneur who has a net worth of $800 million dollars. He earned his first fortune thanks to the fashion label Stussy. He then earned a second massive fortune thanks to the fashion label Supreme.

Did Supreme used to be cheap? ›

“This was before the modern-day Supreme hype,” he says. Still, caps that retailed for $28 were selling for $75. Later that year, on a trip to New York, he visited the store for the first time.

How many Supreme skateboards are there? ›

216 Supreme Skateboards | Stacked Decks | The Supreme Collection | 2021 | Sotheby's.

What is the most famous skateboard brand? ›

The most popular skateboard brands among professional skateboarders are Girl, Zero, Baker, Deathwish, and enjoi. These brands are known for their high-quality decks, trucks, wheels, and bearings. They also make apparel and accessories that appeal to skateboarders of all styles.

Why do people like Supreme so much? ›

For most supreme brands, the quality of clothes is superior to normal clothes. You can feel the quality and care that goes into designing each clothing piece. Some people also want to set them apart from everyone else so they find brand clothing that is rare and unique.

Where is Supreme most popular? ›

The top 5 Supreme stores in the world
  • San Francisco, California. Built by British architecture firms Brinkworth and Wilson Brothers, this is Supreme's newest location and embodies its most pop side. ...
  • Brooklyn, New York. ...
  • Paris, France. ...
  • Harajuku, Japan. ...
  • Los Angeles, California.
5 May 2021

What was the first Supreme item? ›

Travis Bickle Tee - 1994

Released as one of the first three shirts created by the brand along with the Box Logo tee and the "Afro Skater," the design serves as a reminder that in its earliest days, Supreme wanted to be anti-establishment.

Why is Supreme so popular in Japan? ›

The success of supreme in Japan is due to its business model's appeal to the citizen's consumption style there. While the design may be simple, Supreme as a brand symbolizes a bigger meaning: the customer's affluence to win the competition and acquire an expensive, rare item.

What is the most luxury brand ever? ›

The Most Exclusive Luxury Fashion Brands
  • Louis Vuitton. Considered the most valuable luxury brand in the world, French fashion house Louis Vuitton was founded in Paris in 1854. ...
  • Dolce & Gabbana. ...
  • Givenchy. ...
  • Balenciaga. ...
  • Bottega Veneta. ...
  • Salvatore Ferragamo. ...
  • Comme des Garcons. ...
  • Armani.
13 Sept 2022

Who designs clothes for Supreme? ›

James Jebbia
BornJuly 22, 1963 New York City, U.S.
NationalityAmerican British
Occupationfashion designer businessman
Years active1977–present
4 more rows

What is the Supreme logo mean? ›

The Supreme logo features the name of the company in bold, futura, oblique font surrounded by a bright red box. It's a simple design, yet the aggressive combination of the font and color scheme is one that broadcasts a message of rebellion and anti-authority that resonates with Supreme's customers.

What is the Supreme logo font? ›

Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed by Paul Renner and released in 1927. It was designed as a contribution on the New Frankfurt-project.

Can I use Supreme logo? ›

In 99%, company logos are trademarked, and this simply means, you are not allowed to use them in any form. If you use for example the popular red Supreme logo and put it on a t-shirt, then it would be classified as trademark infringement and you can be sued by the company.

Did Supreme Make a money gun? ›

Supreme®/CashCannon™ Money Gun.

Is Supreme still popular 2022? ›

And there are still plenty of die-hard fans of 2010s-era streetwear. Supreme, under parent company VF Corp., is expected to generate $600 million in revenue in 2022, up from $500 million last year. Supreme remains the number one traded brand for apparel on StockX since 2020, according to the resale platform.

How much does Supreme spend on advertising? ›

Supreme, despite being valued at $1 billion USD, spends almost no money on marketing or advertising. Barring a few poster campaigns and some collaborations with celebrities, Supreme doesn't advertise in any way.

Did Louis Vuitton buy Supreme? ›

Supreme is not owned by Louis Vuitton, or rather, LVMH – which is the luxury parent company of LV and other high-end fashion brands. Supreme was founded by James Jebbia in the 90s and was eventually sold to the VF corporation in 2020 – a company that owns several other mid-level brands like Vans and The Northface.

Where does Supreme make their clothes? ›

Supreme uses a network of North American manufacturers

Instead of mass manufacturing in China, the brand was “committed to producing small but high-quality runs of clothing,” writes Complex. In the early 2000s, Supreme implemented a lottery system for Japanese customers to wait in line, a la new iPhone releases.

How much do Supreme hoodies resell for? ›

On Grailed, the average resale price of a Box Logo hoodie (when compiling all styles, seasons and conditions) is $514.

How much does Supreme make a year? ›

VF Corporation continues to bet big on Supreme with expectations of the brand bringing in $600 million in revenue for the 2022 fiscal year.

How fast did Supreme sell out? ›

Anyone who managed to cop a crewneck pullover in the United States was clearly blessed with turbo fingers: SupremeCommunity clocked the sellout times for the drop, with every colorway selling out in less than 32 seconds.

Does Supreme sell out fast? ›

Almost all Supreme products sell out instantly. There is a huge market for reselling Supreme products because of the extremely high demand. Some fans who shared their stories with Business Insider said they are able to make hundreds of dollars a week by flipping products they're able to buy before they sell out.

Can Supreme be returned? ›

You have only two days from the purchase date—or from the moment you receive your shipment if you buy online—to file a return request. Supreme will consider your request if the item you return: Is in perfect condition. Hasn't been worn or washed.

What is the richest clothing brand in the world? ›

Find more than 4.000 fashion wholesale brands in the International Fashion Brands Directory here.
...
Most valuable fashion brands.
Brand2020 Brand Value $
1Nike$36.8 b
2Louis Vuitton$32.3 b
3Hermes$18.3 b
4Gucci$18.2 b
96 more rows

Why do Supreme shirts cost so much? ›

Supreme products are expensive due to their popularity and scarcity. The brand advertises its products via celebrity endorsements and luxury brand collaborations. Their limited number of stores also keeps the brand exclusive, making Supreme products highly desirable to consumers.

How can you tell a real Supreme? ›

Next to the “Supreme” tag, a smaller red “Made In” tag should be placed a few millimeters to the right. The gap between tags can vary, but you'll know if it's fake Supreme if the two tags touch or overlap, and aren't parallel to each other.

Does Supreme sponsored skaters? ›

The current Supreme skate team is Tyshawn Jones, Sage Elsesser, Ben Kadow, Sean Pablo, Ben Kadow, Nakel Smith, Mark Gonzales, Kevin Rodrigues, Jason Dill, Aidan Mackey, Vincent Touzery, Rowan Zorilla, Kader Sylla and more.

Who is the world's number 1 skateboarder? ›

As the top ranked skateboarder in the world (and the highest paid with sponsorships deals with NikeSB and Monster) Nyjah Huston is gearing for the biggest skate of his life — the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympic games — where skateboarding will make its Olympic debut as an official sport.

Who is the world number 1 in skateboarding? ›

Rankings
RankNameGold
Skate Gen
1Alex Sorgente301
2Pedro Barros251
3Felipe Foguinho575
65 more rows

Who is the most talented skateboarder? ›

Top 10 Skateboarders of All Time
  • Rodney Mullen.
  • Tony Hawk.
  • Bob Burnquist.
  • Danny Way.
  • Bucky Lasek.
  • Eric Koston.
  • Nyjah Huston.
  • Andrew Reynolds.

What made Burberry successful? ›

Burberry spent time and effort improving its product (Value). They developed and modernised their fabrics, reinvented their silhouettes, and branched out into profitable and aligned product sectors.

Why is Versace so successful? ›

Versace designed throughout the 1980s and '90s and built a fashion empire by producing ensembles that oozed sensuality and sexuality. His most famous designs included sophisticated bondage gear, polyvinyl chloride baby-doll dresses, and silver-mesh togas.

What makes Fendi successful? ›

Fendi is a fashion label that's synonymous with luxury. It is an Italian brand that creates excellent handbags with impeccable precision. In addition, the brand is synonymous with its signature double 'F' logo. Fendi has been around for more than 100 years and continues to push forward and create innovative designs.

Why is Armani successful? ›

Giorgio Armani, who built the empire by himself, is not only a great designer, but also a marketing genius with astute business sense. Armani's marketing strategies always combine with his design. Armani's huge success is attributed to his fantastic design, creative marketing strategy and distinct business form.

Why is Burberry's digital strategy so good? ›

In parallel, Burberry built a sleek website which includes digital content and drives ecommerce. Burberry has also designed unique digital content to allow consumers to interact with the brand, to provide customization opportunities and to go beyond fashion and become a tastemaker for its young customers.

What is Burberry slogan? ›

Burberry adopted a logo of a knight with the Latin motto “Prorsum”, meaning “forwards”.

Why did Burberry fail? ›

However, Burberry fell short in its brand storytelling, which was too centered on its history and didn't communicate its brand values well enough for today's younger audiences.

Who is richer Gucci or Versace? ›

Gucci's brand is ranked #52 in the list of Global Top 100 Brands, as rated by customers of Gucci. Versace's brand is ranked #64 in the list of Global Top 100 Brands, as rated by customers of Versace. Their current valuation is $7.46B.
...
Gucci vs Versace.
59%Promoters
18%Passive
23%Detractors

Is Versace a lion or Medusa? ›

The Versace logo is the head of Medusa, a Greek mythological figure. The logo came from the floor of ruins in the area of Reggio Calabria that the Versace siblings played in as children. Gianni Versace chose Medusa as the logo because she made people fall in love with her and they had no way back.

How do I become a luxury brand? ›

Five Steps to Build a Strong Luxury Brand
  1. Identifying a niche segment. ...
  2. Positioning based on high levels of differentiation. ...
  3. Emphasizing the symbolic value. ...
  4. Creating perceptions of exclusivity. ...
  5. Uncompromising delivery on superior brand promise.

What is the most successful designer brand? ›

Best Designer Clothing Brands for Women & Men Right Now
RankNameCountry
1.Louis VuittonFrance
2.GucciItaly
3.Saint LaurentFrance
4.ChanelFrance
16 more rows
3 Oct 2022

What does Fendi stand for? ›

According to Urban Dictionary, the term “Fendi” is synonymous with luxury and high quality. It's also a word that can mean truth or facts, a play on meaning Lil Uzi Vert captures in his recent rap hit.

Why are luxury brands so successful? ›

Successful luxury brands entice their buyers through emotional experiences and resonating with target audiences. This results in consumers buying their products simply because their name or logo appears. Emotion is king when these purchases are made, even during an economic downturn.

What is the cheapest Armani brand? ›

Launched in 1991, Armani Exchange is the most accessible and affordable line within the Armani family. The line is not directly designed by Giorgio Armani but targets more of the fast-fashion street style that a youthful audience is looking for.

Who is the brand ambassador of Armani? ›

Thompson is also known for her role in the Emmy-nominated drama series Westworld; and as Valkyrie in the Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, followed by Avengers: Endgame in 2019. She is to reprise the role in the anticipated Thor: Love and Thunder, set for release in 2022.

Is Armani stronger with you male or female? ›

Stronger With You is a masculine scent featuring spicy accords in the top notes of - a mix of cardamom, pink peppercorn, and violet leaves.

Videos

1. WTF Happened to Supreme?
(What’s The Hype)
2. SUPREME marketing strategy explained by Seth Godin! (Tim Ferriss Podcast)
(Amran Hasbi Adityaputra)
3. How Supreme grew an amazing brand
(Beyond Billables)
4. The Story Behind Supreme Clothing; Small Beginnings
(ONY)
5. How JAMES JEBBIA Became JAMES JEBBIA (The Real Supreme Story) 2019 | PART 1
(PUSH PRODUCT)
6. How Supreme Saved Champion 100 Years Later
(Hook)

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