Supreme Is The Best
No other clothing brands command this kind of devotion. Ralph Lauren had its "Lo-Lifes," a group of guys from Brooklyn who spent the early 90s stealing as much Polo as they could. Sneaker-heads tend to be Nike lifers. However, by Supreme standards, these are all middling brand obsessions—their followers the fair-weather fans to Supreme's ultras: the kids who wait in line, the adult men who'll pay silly money for vintage Supreme-branded incense sticks.
The fandom is essentially a subculture in itself. Europe's largest Facebook page to buy, sell, trade, and chat Supreme is SupTalk, which, with nearly 60,000 members, surely outnumbers the continent's lesser-populated youth tribes—cyber-goths, say, or people who are deadly serious about vaping. In this group, you'll find the many denominations of Supreme devotee, from aging hype-beasts and 13-year-old rich kids to skaters, Insta-celebs, and the stamp collectors of the streetwear generation: the guys—and they are always guys—who'll buy up every color of one specific cap, or the full set of Supreme x Stone Island jackets, or each and every T-shirt featuring the brand's iconic box logo.
Before each "drop day," SupTalk members discuss their favorite upcoming items—the Morrissey T-shirt, for example, or the snakeskin shoe from an Air Max collaboration that's released a couple of months after I visit the store. Online, these hyped up pieces sell out in milliseconds—for $130, you can buy a "bot" that purchases your desired piece as soon as it appears in the e-store—and Supreme produces limited stock, so when it's gone, it's gone.
Until, that is, it appears again, on SupTalk or eBay, for considerably more than its original price. Some items go for twice what they cost on the rail, some for the sort of markups more commonly applied to movie-theater popcorn. This is especially true for the last couple of years, as interest in the brand seems to have shot up exponentially. A $210 pink-denim jacket from SS16 is flipped for nearly $3,000 to a buyer in Kyoto. On Grailed, a high-end clothing resale site, you'll often find old Supreme for the same price as a plane ticket from London to Bangkok. Where privileged schoolboys once spent their parents' dividends on PlayStations and plasma TVs, turning their noses up at fashion, they're now paying "proxies" to line up on drop day and buy $170 pullovers.
So why all this hysteria? Why do people build Supreme shrines in their bedrooms and not get embarrassed about it? Why are teenagers buying plane tickets to pick up a pair of boxer shorts? What kind of neurochemical reactions drive you to buy eight near-identical versions of the same very expensive T-shirt? Why, fundamentally, do so many people become so obsessed with Supreme?
Hype is the most cited reason: that the buzz around the brand is what sustains that same buzz—that a sighting of Drake or Kanye in Supreme is what inspires people to bid themselves into bankruptcy when the same item appears on eBay. But there has to be more to it than that. Surely humans—the most evolved of all land mammals, creators of space stations, and two-person umbrellas—aren't that easily swayed?
Equally, if you're the kind of person who actively worries about what's cool and buzzy, it follows that you'd lose interest in Supreme the more popular it becomes—yet the brand doesn't seem to be shedding any diehard followers as it continues to grow (bar a few cool-guy commenters in SupTalk who'll talk shit about anyone who only started wearing Supreme this year). You could also argue that the brand just produces really nice clothes—and, for some people, that's undoubtedly why they'll dip in and out. But for others, the levels of devotion have to be provoked by something more than cotton and thread.