The Supreme Weekly is a regular column examining and breaking down the influences behind the brand’s weekly drops, courtesy of our resident Supreme expert, Ross Wilson.
Since its early days as a single-door skate shop in downtown Manhattan, Supreme has always done things its own way. Whereas most skate shops were stacked floor to ceiling with products, Supreme was all about clean open space — busy garment rails made way for impeccably folded T-shirt displays and traditional skate posters were replaced with art pieces by artists like Rammellzee, Mark Gonzales and Nate Lowman.
There was a strict “no touching of merchandise” policy enforced by the staff, Nag Champa incense burned throughout the day to cover up the smell of other burning substances from the back room, the music was nightclub-level volume and skate videos played on loop via a bank of old television screens facing out of the front window onto the street.
Supreme’s ethos of doing things differently also applied to its own in-house products. Nowadays, the Supreme accessories are widely anticipated each season but back in the early days there wasn’t a single skate shop in the world that would’ve considered putting out a branded fire extinguisher, inflatable raft or brick! Although Supreme’s accessories line really came into its own from 2006 onwards, a few branded items like the compass keychain, box logo match box and incense sticks were all produced several years prior.
Over the past few months I’ve presented some of the influences behind the most memorable products and collaborations from Supreme’s FW17 season in my weekly column. As the weekly drops have now wrapped until February 2018 I’m taking a retrospective look back at the finest accessories Supreme released this season, and the various ways they tie back to the brand’s roots.
U.S. currency was a running theme throughout FW17; Supreme previewed a trucker jacket and overalls covered in $100 bills, an “Altered States of America One Zillion Dollar” tee/sticker, and the lucite cash paperweight.
Supreme’s FW17 opening week kicked off with a 14K gold $100 bill pendant, and a Rifkin Safety Sac featuring the slogan “Money Is Always Most Important.”
Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster classic Goodfellas has repeatedly influenced Supreme’s output since the early days, including the iconic “Motion” logo, and various tees adorned with quotes from the movie. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes Tommy, Jimmy and Henry stop off at Tommy’s mothers house to pick up a shovel to bury the body of Billy Batts. In yet another nod to the film, Supreme made their own collapsible shovel.
Much like they did with their Hermes Sellier tray in 2012, Supreme produced an almost exact replica of an old Gucci gold-trimmed circular ashtray from the ’70s, simply flipping the interlocking Gucci G’s for a small box logo.
In week two, Supreme paid tribute to both their Japanese customers and their old Soho neighbors, the Pearl River Mart, by releasing a box logo-adorned sake set and enamel chopsticks. This followed on from their FW16 Longevity soup set, which consisted of a traditional Chinese “Health and Longevity” soup/rice bowl and spoon.
These nice and simple items proved extremely popular and sold out instantly on Supreme’s webstore on release.
Brian De Palma’s classic 1983 movie Scarface, which chronicled the rise and eventual fall of Cuban refugee Tony Montana, was an ongoing theme throughout this season. Kicking off with the Scarface denim jacket in week one, right up to the leather jacket in week 18, the ‘80s rags-to-riches tale themed many items of clothing and accessories.
One item that wasn’t included in the official collaboration, but was certainly inspired by a scene in the film, was the box logo-adorned inflatable blimp that released back in September.
Following Frank Lopez’s failed assassination attempt on Tony, he stares through the glass walls of Elvira’s condo up at a blimp which reads “The World is Yours.” Tony takes that phrase to heart and ruthlessly pursues his version of the American dream by reaching the top of Miami’s cocaine trade at any cost.
Supreme returned to the Scarface collaboration in week eight, with a capsule of graphic tees, knitwear, outwear and skate decks.
A highlight of the collection was a desk lamp that harked back to the film’s closing scene. At the movie’s bloody climax, Tony Montana lies dead in a pool below a brass statue in his mansion, which, like the blimp scene referenced in week three, reads “The World Is Yours.”
Having first collaborated with the world famous boxing brand Everlast in 2008, Supreme were back in the ring this season with a satin boxing robe and folding exercise mat.
Supreme founder James Jebbia has always been a boxing fan, and previously credited the late Muhammad Ali as “an awesome inspiration as a person as well as an incredible boxer.” Jebbia’s love of boxing has been evident since the early days — classic Ali fights were often screened on the Lafayette Street store’s TV monitors, and boxing-themed tees have made their way into various collections over the years.
Supreme has paid tribute to the hardwood with a Spalding basketball in 2007 (and again in 2016), as well as various basketball jerseys and shorts over the years, but the brand finally made things official with the NBA this season, with a co-branded shooting sleeve. The triple-branded Dri-Fit compression sleeve was a taster for a full collaboration that’s due to arrive in SS18, and will include a trio of Nike Air Force 1 Mids alongside matching NBA jerseys.
Although it was previewed at the start of the season, one of Supreme’s most prestigious collaborations yet was saved right up to the tail-end of the year. This custom guitar by American manufacturer Fender was inspired by the late great Jimi Hendrix and his infamous 1968 “Olympic White” Stratocaster — aka “The Woodstock Strat.”
Returning from his breakthrough in Europe, Hendrix performed a legendary set at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. With his favorite white guitar, Hendrix captivated a huge crowd over a 12-song set that included his famous rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The “Woodstock” Strat was one of Hendrix’s favorite guitars, and was played in his final concert at the Isle of Fehmarn in September 1970.
Supreme’s rendition of the legendary instrument came complete with a branded guitar case and plectrums. A short video featuring DJ Quick playing the guitar upside-down — just like Hendrix did — appeared on the brand’s Instagram account to mark the release.
So how do you top a $2,000 guitar? You follow it up with a $5,900 piece of furniture, that’s how! Supreme had already worked with Finnish furniture brand Artek on a table and set of stools for the SS17 season, but the custom Tank 400 chair would test the loyalty (and bank accounts) of Supreme’s most dedicated fans.
The armchair 400 was created by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto in 1936, and is considered to be one of his most iconic designs. The “Tank” is viewed as such a design classic it’s included in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Supreme’s version came in bright red (obviously), with a jacquard fabric that read “Fuck” (obviously).
To round off a successful year Supreme struck gold by releasing a red plastic sled just in time for snow to hit the UK and eastern parts of the United States. The heavyweight bright red plastic sled will be sure to keep kids amused this winter, but could it be a sign that Supreme is gearing up for a snowboard collaboration this time next year?
The final accessory in Supreme’s FW17 season almost caused as much of a stir as last year’s box logo-branded brick. When the FW17 preview launched on Supreme’s website last August there was much debate over an accessory that appeared to be a stack of $100 U.S. bank notes encased in lucite.
Much like the kind of thing you’d see on the desk of an ‘80s Wall Street banker, Supreme’s take on the “Deal Toy” left many wondering about the value of the money inside. Was it $2,000 (20 x $100 bills), $1,000 (10 x $100 bills), $298 (2 x $100 bills with 98 x $1 bills in between) or $200 (2 x $100 bills with fake paper notes in between), or something else entirely?
We may never actually know the true value of Supreme’s status symbol-cum-executive toy, as the release appears to have been shelved for the time being.