Supreme is one of the top fashion brands that inspires a high level of devotion in their brand. Their customers range from private equity billionaires to streetwear enthusiasts. This brand is quite shy when it comes to publicity and only has 12 stores worldwide. Despite their low-key status, its crowds of fans still line up for an opportunity to purchase the latest item from the brand. This brand successfully amassed a large following and rabid loyalty, making it a leading fashion industry icon. It is crucial to explore Supreme history to understand their rise to fashion power easily. This article explores the history of the brand and its strategies for success.
Supreme History – Starting Small
The Supreme brand was launched in 1994 by James Jebbia. He opened a skateboard and clothing store on Lafayette Street, the heart of New York City’s hip fashion scene. Jebbia had previously worked with Shawn Stussy, a skateboarder, and designer. During this period, Jebbia got drawn to the edgy and cool style of the young skaters in the city. Today, the Supreme brand is known to sponsor several professional skaters, including Justin Pierce and Harold Hunter, who featured in the 1995 cult classic movie ‘Kids.’ It was a controversial movie that drew attention to the skating culture and fashion of the mid-90s. So when Supreme opened the first store, the first set of employees were extras from this movie.
Over the past decades, this brand has slowly expanded, refusing to relinquish its standing as a symbol of the underground. It took a decade before Supreme decided to open its second store in Los Angeles. However, despite the slow beginnings of Supreme history, the brand has two stores in New York and six in Japan. IT also has outposts in London and Paris, and in 2019, it opened a new one in san Francisco. During Supreme history, their street cred was bolstered by the high-profile collaborations they had. The brand collaborated with top luxury houses like Louis Vuitton, Vans, Nike, and even Levis.
Over the years, the brand worked with various artists and different brands. This is part of why the brand is so cool. With their collaborations with high-end luxury brands, they were able to push the boundaries of how people viewed skateboarding culture.
Supreme Inspires a Cult Following Which Leads to Knock-offs
It doesn’t matter whether Supreme is releasing a new line of apparel accessories or dropping new collaborations; Supreme fans will line up for hours outside a store to access the new product. Most times, the product sells out within a few minutes. Supreme fans usually jump through hoops to pay for a single Supreme t-shirt, jacket, or tennis set. However, there are times when they cannot get these items before they sell out. In such a situation, the resale market comes into the picture. There are several sites where resellers usually list sold-out items for resale at a high price.
Many fans would usually pay triple for a single Supreme shirt in the resale market because they respect Supreme history. Unfortunately, they continually face copyright infringement issues due to how sought the brand’s items are. In addition, the brand wasn’t able to trademark their brand simply because too many brands also have similar names. However, Jebbia shared that Supreme is a good name, but it was never an ideal brand name.
In 2018, the brand won a lawsuit against Supreme Italia that sold products that closely resembled Supreme products down to the logo boxes. As a result, the knock-off company was forced to withdraw from the Italian market, but they’re known to still sell knock-offs of Supreme items in other countries like China and Spain. In 2017 and 2018, Supreme was at the top of the list of brands with the most online searches for replica products.
How Does the Supreme Brand Handle the Hype?
The Supreme history and the overall brand symbolize the rebellious youth culture. This explains why the young consumers don’t mind lining up for hours trying to access even a single Supreme item. The brand is very involved in art and culture, which has driven demand through consumer desire and passion. Supreme barely markets its brand, which is partly why it is so successful. They do not invest in paid marketing as other apparel community does. Instead, this brand is successful because of the community they built and are a part of. This brand uses its mystique to build hype and grow globally despite the lack of marketing.
This brand uses word-of-mouth marketing to turn its product launches into some sort of event. People usually have to travel down, get tickets, make it on the list, and line up in the stores to get a Supreme item. This event generates a lot of buzz and gets the public curious about what the brand offers. Another way the brand utilizes the hype to its advantage is through a never-ending lineup of branded curiosities. They provide items that people don’t usually expect a streetwear brand to sell. However, once these items carry the Supreme’s logo, it is instantly a must-have for their fans. The brand has sold everything stamped with the Supreme logo, and these items are still available to buy on the internet at a high price.
This brand understands that demand for their products is so strong that whatever they manufacture will get sold out. The more random their product looks, the more sought after it is by Supreme fans.
Supreme Marketing Strategy
Being one of the most sought-after brands globally, it’s essential to understand their marketing strategies. The brand caught the public’s eye when in Supreme history, a private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, made a $500 million investment in the brand. It was the first time a large private equity company was investing in the streetwear market, and many people wondered why Supreme? This section focuses on the brand’s marketing strategies to give you a better understanding of its success.
The Scarcity that Increases Demand
One of the top marketing strategies implemented by the Supreme brand is scarcity. The brand has a high level of precision and discipline, apparent in its collection launches. The brand releases a limited collection of merchandise every Thursday at 11:00 am. Therefore, people continually line up in front of the stores to purchase a single Supreme item. This causes most of their merchandise to get sold out within a few seconds. These carefully crafted drops ensure that the customers make it a habit to return to Supreme each week to see the merchandise that’s up for sale.
Supreme’s approach to collection launches is quite different from that of all the other brands that release all their collections simultaneously. The approach takes into consideration human habits which are integral to human nature. Supreme fans automatically check their website every Thursday morning to see what’s new. Customers don’t have to guess when new merchandise will be available; they’re aware and are always ready to shop. The best part is that once the merchandise gets sold out, there’s a chance Supreme won’t sell it again. This has occurred several times in Supreme history and creates a high level of desire in customers. Knowing that they may never get a chance to purchase an item if it gets sold out makes them want to buy it even more.
Collaborations to Cater to a Bigger Audience
Jebbia noticed something in the early days of Supreme history. He noticed that the brand’s customers who shopped in the New York store often wore designer clothes alongside the items. He realized that his customers loved combining high-low items by pairing Supreme products with brands like Louis Vuitton. Since the early days of Supreme history, it has continually collaborated with other brands. Its most significant exposure came from collaborations with high-end brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Lacoste, and even Timberland.
These collaborations elevated the brand’s status globally. Additionally, the collaborations also gave the brands it collaborated with street credibility. It is also famous for collaborations with brands and celebrities like A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, and even Taylor the Creator. These celebrities from the hip-hop culture help generate word-of-mouth advertising for the brand. Once fans saw their favorite artists wear Supreme products, they also wanted one of theirs, which helped expand Supreme’s reach.
Social Media Growth and the Resale Market
Another strategy that has ensured exposure for the brand is their social media growth and the resale market. Resale clothing is a growing segment of the clothing market as it continues to be worth billions of dollars each year. Although most customers would prefer to purchase directly from a Supreme store, they also try to get them from the resale market when they can’t get them. Most customers who eventually lay their hands on the Supreme item often resell the products online for ten times the retail price. With items selling at such a high premium, Supreme’s cachet automatically increases.
Once someone buys Supreme on the resale market, the first buying automatically becomes a reseller. This cycle generates a higher markup for the brand and works to make the brand even more exclusive and popular. Although Supreme didn’t create the process, it also helped to enhance the brand’s growth. Most of the people causing the Supreme products to sell out are only purchasing to resell. Reselling hot merchandise is quite a profitable business for many people out there.
Social media is one of the tools for promoting the resale market as it makes the process easier. Previously, you could only resell to your family, friends, and immediate community. However, with social media, you have access to a broader audience. It also helps to ensure collaborations foster the growth of the brand. By posting on the internet, celebrities can show themselves wearing the brand merchandise to their millions of followers. This makes many people want to go out and also purchase an item.
Evolving Fashion Tastes
Today’s fashion industry is a mix of sportswear, streetwear, and luxury. Therefore, brands like Supreme benefit from a shift within the general public as they opt for a more casual clothing style. The definition of luxury is also changing because the emphasis is no longer on quality and craftsmanship but uniqueness. The younger generation wants something that makes them stand out, not merchandise with an excellent finish. The millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the global luxury sales market. Therefore, with the fashion industry changing, Supreme is sure to come out on top of other streetwear brands.
Supreme is a brand that provides clothing items, skateboards, and several other items that people love to have. The brand is quite different from several brands today but is one of the leading streetwear brands in the brand. Supreme history is one of the little beginnings, and it is vital to understand it to learn how the brand came to earn legendary global status. By the end of this comprehensive article, you’ll gain insight into their beginning and marketing strategies. Knowing Supreme history makes it easier to understand why this brand has such a desired effect on many Supreme fans worldwide.