If You Brand It, They Will Come


How much would you pay for a T-shirt? For the 5,000 people who lined up for hours to just to have an opportunity to shop at the Supreme pop-up boutique in Tokyo this summer, that could be as much as ¥60,000. Heck, people were re-selling their tickets on Twitter, just to shop at the store for ¥500,000. Only 400 people were allowed in on the first day.

Crazy? That’s what I would call it. Personally, I’m partial to Hanes Beefy Ts. They go for about 1,500 yen, are of decent heft and quality, come in all colors of the rainbow and are very comfortable. You don’t get a swank logo, but there’s a lot to be said for minimalism these days.  In my humble opinion, there’s not much to the Supreme logo anyway, but for some people it has a kind of hyper-spiritual cachet, provided you worship the God of Brand Consumerism.

Want a little more cotton with your brand? A Supreme hoodie, featuring the Louis Vuitton logo retails in Japan at about ¥132,000 yen and were being re-sold on sites such as Yahoo Auctions for more than ¥500,000 this past summer.

 A Plan for Outfitting Supreme Beings
Unfortunately, the after-sale market is the only place Japan Supreme fans will be getting their merchandise anymore. The Tokyo pop-up store, which opened on June 30, was supposed to run until July 13. By July 7 with 80,000 souls waiting to get in and most items out of stock, the pop-up was shuttered.  A similar situation unfolded in Los Angeles, where, not surprisingly, fights broke out. That store was mercifully closed as well. And Louis Vuitton has reportedly canceled plans to offer Supreme goods in its Tokyo outlets. Although word has it that VIP sales may be initiated.

What the heck is Supreme anyway? Originated by James Jebbia, it began as a skateboarder fashion boutique in New York in 1994. After a series of collaborations with designers such as Kermit, Takashi Murakami and brands such as Nike, Vans, North Face and, most recently, Luis Vuitton, and designs and ads featuring Kate Moss and the Supreme Box logo, the brand rapidly became a global phenomenon. With hooks into the music world and pop culture, designs have featured Prodigy, Isaac Hayes and Miles Davis, Supreme is often compared to Harajuku’s very own BAPE, which features collaborations with Pharrell and Kayne West, among others.


Going Organic with Louis Vuitton
Supreme’s connection with Luis Vuitton began in 2000, when the brand released caps, T-shirts and more emblazoned with the LV monogram pattern. Copyright law suits were threatened by Louis Vuitton, but too many celebrities had already posted photos of Supreme LV gear on Instagram. (For the roots of organic LV collaboration, check out the story of Harlem’s own Dapper Dan aka Daniel Day). By 2017, LV-Supreme collaborations became official, pop-up stores popped up around the world and the madness followed.

Call me a dork, but I’ll stick with Hanes and Uniqlo and sneakers you can buy at ABC Mart. I’d rather save my money for a trip to the real home of Louis Vuitton.

Last but not least, those who feel that ignoring Supreme isn't enough of a statement may want to go for the Rick & Morty (of Netflix) inspired knock off, "Schwifty." You can order one online for 20 bucks. 

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