From a small skate store on a quiet street in New York to the fashion powerhouse it is today, Supreme is genuinely a unique brand. People everywhere are on the lookout for the next product drops with waiting outside their stores, and online for hours. Supreme offers something different as a brand with its products and marketing tactics. With becoming a billion-dollar brand in 2017, Supreme has made its impact on not just the skate community but also fashion enthusiasts everywhere.
About the Founder
James Jebbia grew up in the Sussex, England in the town of Crawley. His first job came from working at a Duracell factory while in his teens. With his extra money, he would take trips to London frequently where he would love to explore the shops. He loved one shop in particular, that was doing business differently. The store featured no big brands and only carried the items that skaters considered cool at the time. He later adopted a similar model for the Supreme brand.
The start of Supreme goes back to 1994. Having once been a quiet street named Lafayette; sat an antique store, firehouse, and machinist as well as the first Supreme store. James made the space more of a hangout spot rather than a store. The majority of the store consisted of bare space giving customers the option to skate as they shopped. With products that were deemed cool among skaters placed along the walls, to the loud music and videos that played as you walked by, this was a skaters paradise.
Other Store Openings
Japan is where three more stores were opened in 1998. In 2004, Los Angeles is where James chose to open his second US location. The store was double the size and featured a skate bowl. As the brand was becoming a status symbol amongst skaters; the brand opened stores globally into markets such as Tokyo, London, and Paris. Every store has the same layout with shirts folded perfectly and products spaced out perfectly.
Supremes marketing is unconventional compared to that of other brands. James prefers to keep advertising to a minimum as he wishes the brand not too become too mainstream and commercial. It wasn’t until 2006 that the brand actually made a website and was purposefully late at creating an Instagram account. With the logo being somewhat loud in of itself, customers do most of the advertising just by wearing Supreme products.
Supreme has worked with celebrities to do photoshoots of their clothing in hopes to continue to build hype for the brand. Stars from Odell Beckham Jr. to Lady Gaga, Neil Young, and Michael Jordan have helped create exclusivity and shape the market of which their customers consist of.
The brand’s most significant marketing tactic is collaborations with other brands such as Levi’s, Vans, and Louis Vuitton. The brands range from high end to low end, giving all Supreme fans the chance to own one of these pieces. When collaborating, both brands have their branding featured on the products. James recalls the collaboration with famous Japanese brand Comme Des Garcons, as the collaboration that opened a lot of doors and eyes to the world of Supreme.
Limited Stock and Product Drops
Supreme is known for its exclusivity, and it’s hard to get products. From its limited quantity of products and unique design, makes owning one of Supremes products a rewarding experience. This strategy came from the opening of the first store, as James didn’t have a massive budget for products. The shop had products that weren’t considered basic, and once they were sold, something new would take its place.
Thursdays at 11am is considered drop day, in which a select few are allowed to buy their limited runs of newly released products before they sell out. The brand purposefully leaks out information about products that could be dropped at any time, in which grows the hype even more. Besides limited release product drops, the brand also releases complete collections twice a year for fall/winter and spring/summer.
The brand itself offers a variety of products in which to choose from. Everyday clothing items such as jackets, shoes, and pants; to even branded drum kits and band-aids line the Supreme shelves. While the products are designed to appeal to people in the skateboarding and hip hop community, everyone can find a product they want regardless.
James makes sure Supreme products are exactly how he wants them. From choosing the correct color shade to the right quality material, not a detail is missed in the creation of Supreme products. Much of the products feature the logo in different variations as well as the classic.
Here are some brands created by former Supreme employees:
Luke Meier – In charge of design at Supreme in 2002
Founded by Luke Meier and Arnaud Faeh in 2013
Angelo Baque – Started at Supreme in 2006
Founded Awake NY in 2012
Brendon Babenzian – In charge of design in 2007
Opened first store in 2015