World's Greatest

Clothes

World's Greatest

Postby smiles » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:47 am

I apologize for the terrible intro. My professor doesn't know anything about supreme.


Itt. Talk about supreme if you want.


​ On a few thursday mornings per month, Lafayette street in Soho hosts a strange sight: a line of teenagers stretching down the block, some of them with sleeping bags or camping chairs who have waited overnight. The line ends at a storefront identifiable by a simple banner; inside the walls are lined with skate decks and shelves of heavy duty clothing mostly designed with skateboarding in mind. Many of those in line are already wearing the brand’s designs, emblazoned in red and white across hats or printed on t-shirts. The kids outside are waiting for a new release of Supreme products, each item in very small quantities (though never called ‘limited’) which will sell out by the end of the afternoon (online, new releases may be gone in minutes). Some people will go on to resell the shirts and baseball hats for two or three times their listed price, some will keep the clothes and let others know that they are in the club.

​Supreme was founded in 1994 by James Jebbia, a fixture in the New York streetwear scene and a co-founder of the the first Stussy chapter. James, though not a skater himself, chose the Lafayette street location for it’s wide sidewalks and quiet atmosphere which allowed customers to practice kick-flips and ollies while checking out the new products. Operating as a cultish, somewhat unknown brand for the first decade, over the past few years the popularity of Supreme has exploded, probably due to recent mainstream celebrity attention by the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber, attracting a new breed of consumer. Although its roots lie in skate and streetwear culture, Supreme also owes a debt to the concept of Camp, famously sketched by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘On Camp.’ For Sontag, Camp “sees everything as quotation marks,” where form and sensuality are emphasized at the expense of content. Camp was originally ‘naive‘ in that true Camp can only be created though a failed attempt at seriousness (an example of this are “so bad they’re good” 1950’s science fiction movies). Supreme functions as an example of contemporary Camp through their products and concept, representing an evolved form of Camp that is focused on (postmodern) parody and irony. They have created a separate metric of aesthetic distinction and social hierarchy which veils their campy nature, causing outsiders to react to the brand seriously or mistakenly, creating another layer of camp. These concepts and themes can be located in Supreme’s logo and its inspirations, including the art of Barbra Kruger and Shepard Fairey.

​It is first necessary to establish where Supreme stands in the nexus of irony, parody and seriousness (both genuine and merely perceived). This is a difficult proposition for the notoriously press-shy brand, who are reluctant to pronounce their intentions. The only ads come in the form of enigmatic posters of celebrities wearing Supreme t-shirts, or simple stickers designed to be plastered on sign posts and on skate decks. Much like Maison Martin Margiela, the lack of publicity seems to function as advertising, furthering the ‘in-the-know’ connotations. However, in order to approach their positioning with a degree of academic rigor it is best to asses Supreme’s seriousness and image regardless of their own secretive agenda. One the key pieces of information that may help to place Supreme is that James Jebbia is not a skater. He made Supreme a skate shop simply because there were no other skate shops around and because he found the graphics appealing. In a sense, authenticity (another version of seriousness) is not at stake, freeing Supreme to be as ironic as it wants to be without falling into accidental seriousness and becoming a parody of themselves. Supreme is not ‘naive’ Camp in that the campy products are created knowingly from an ironic perspective and presented as-they-are, creating an ambiguous relationship between parody and seriousness. Some people, failing to see the subtle parody may react to Supreme’s products seriously, creating a layer of genuine ‘naive’ Camp. Thus, locating Supreme becomes all the more complicated as it depends on the perspective of the person making the judgement. It is of course entirely possible that Supreme does not feel this way and/or feels that they are a serious brand but given the evidence and their products, this does not seem likely.
​The most distilled and direct example of Supreme as contemporary Camp is found in their logo, which is printed on a variety of different products every season. The logo, a red box with italicized white sans-serif lettering is obviously influenced by the artwork of Barbra Kruger, whose work in the 1980’s was itself a critique and parody of consumerist culture and advertising images and slogans. According to Sontag Camp is “the difference ... between the thing as meaning something, anything, and and the thing as pure artifice.” By taking an ironic statement about advertising and mass media and adopting it as a brand logo, Supreme ads another layer of irony, but lacking the meaning, essentially putting quotations around the content of Kruger’s art. For Kruger the point of parody is to call attention to advertising and its effect upon society (“I shop therefore I am”) whereas for Supreme there is no specific perspective or opinion, just a recycled image adopted for its imagery and made all the more ironic through its associations. The name “Supreme” is also an example of emptied images or concepts operating as a kind of Camp. The word supreme, with its religious and superlative undertones has a ‘serious’ target: God is a supreme being, the Supreme Court, etc. The brand has no target; it is uncertain what is supposed to be supreme. The shirt? The person wearing the shirt? The brand itself? The word is limited to form only, ironically adopting a ‘serious’ concept.

​Another source of flintstone for Supreme’s logo and concept (and possible target of parody) is street art, especially the work of Shepard Fairey. In the 1980’s Fairey began pasting stickers of the wrestler Andre the Giant all over New England, in “an experiment in phenomenology” designed to draw people’s attention to their surroundings and imagery’s (including advertising) effect on it. For people who already know about the sticker and the project it is no longer mysterious and vaguely threatening, but merely an image to be appreciated for its own sake. Additionally, people who are in the know may feel a sense of belonging or use it as a method of identifying with a group or attitude. Fairey’s experiment fits with Bourdieu’s concept of aesthetic distinction in that “A work of art has meaning and interest only for someone who possess the cultural competence, that is, the code, into which it is encoded.” Only with with an understanding of the code can the viewer understand the meaning (or lack there of). Knowledge of that code, which could be called ‘taste’, exists within a social hierarchy that designates objects worthy of interest and meaning.
​Supreme’s logo functions in the same manner as Fairey’s stickers and possibly takes the concept further. Many of Supreme’s earliest products (which they continue to produce) were simply the logo printed onto plain hats, sweatshirts, and tee shirts, in effect making the logo inseparable from the design and asking the consumer to accept it as the sole conveyor of taste and monetary value upon an otherwise blank object. The logo is merely a key to the code and a method of identification with a group with no inherent meaning behind it. Supreme’s (and Fairey’s) “experiment[s] in phenomenology” function as Camp by taking a serious concept, aesthetics, and reducing it to form only, the code conveying no other meaning beyond knowledge of the code itself. Supreme furthers the ‘experiment’ by commodifying the desire to posses the code by placing it on a t-shirt, giving the consumer the ability to purchase a way into the group. Supreme is by no means the only company to use this tactic, however their treatment of this process is ironic and possibly contemptuous. They frequently release highly impractical (and campy) products including: nun-chucks, boxing gloves, a hammer, a set of dominoes, and a comb; these products are priced significantly higher than the equivalent unbranded product (a small aluminum box from the spring summer 2013 collection costs thirty-four dollars) essentially asking the consumer to pay extra simply for the logo regardless of logic or value, which depending on Supreme’s intentions, either shows a contempt for their customers or is a comment on the power of advertising and branding.

​Through their logo, Supreme has created a social hierarchy based not on the consumer’s educational level (as per Bourdieu), but through the consumers ability to consume the product. An interesting phenomenon at the Supreme store is that the clerks and other assistants are famously rude and dismissive. Rather than the store being grateful for the consumer’s patronage, they give off the impression that the consumer should be grateful for being allowed to shop at Supreme. In the early years, people were not allowed to touch or try on the clothes before they bought them, again limiting the ability of consumption. Supreme’s clothing is not particularly expensive at retail prices, but due to limited availability, it becomes much more difficult to be able to purchase a specific product and may require either paying above retail or waiting in line. Thus the ability to consume and wear the logo becomes a marker of taste. The more difficult the item is to acquire, the higher on the ladder of hierarchy a consumer can ascend. This system also allows Supreme to keep a careful balance between seeming cool and limited and appearing as manipulating the consumer into buying products only for the ‘hype’. Their creation of a separate aesthetic distinction additionally grants them protection for creating seemingly ‘ugly’ or ‘bad’ products and designs. If the products are determined valuable or tasteful based upon availability, Supreme can be reasonably sure that whatever they produce (as long as it is limited) will sell well. From the outside, these consumers would be campy for buying ‘ugly‘ products seriously. Sontag would certainly consider Supreme’s system campy in that it is “serious about the frivolous and frivolous about the serious,” especially the sales assistants who behave rudely (seriously or not) and customers who dedicate significant amount of time and money to acquire the most limited merchandise, especially the ugly products.

​In addition to this foundational hierarchy, a new metric of taste appears to have developed since the brand’s inception due to their rising popularity. In the beginning, Supreme was more heavily involved with skate culture than it is at present (they had their own skateboarding team) naturally limiting their visibility and popularity. Arguably, this allowed Supreme’s ironic message and campy nature to be ascertained more clearly. As Supreme became more popular and people increasingly separated from the local context began to hear of the brand through celebrities, some people perceived the brand in an non-ironic context, the logo simply operating as an object of desire for its limited availability and endorsements, conceivably unaware of its associations. Consumers in this pattern, who take the brand (and logo) seriously become an example of naive camp to the consumers within the foundational hierarchy. To those on the outside looking in, both groups appear identical, possibly contributing to the confusion over Supreme’s position.
​However, these groups are impossible to determine categorically as both group’s methods of consumption are identical. More importantly, if the only distinction between them is to do with intention (how can one prove ironic consumption?), then there is no point in attempting to define them. These concerns of ‘authenticity’ within the social hierarchy Supreme has created are doomed to become Camp, for claims to authenticity, shouts of “I was here first!” and “I get it” treat the situation as serious un-ironically. Supreme, although they release campy products, has created a much more efficient generator of Camp through the surrounding discussions and distinctions that attempt to categorize and define Supreme. Even this essay is treading dangerously close to Camp (and may end up as such) by making serious judgments upon an inherently frivolous brand. Only through careful qualifications and delicate maneuvers can the subject be discussed. As Susan Sontag says: “To talk about Camp is to therefore betray it.” Similarly, to talk about Supreme is expose it it as one of the most brilliantly marketed brands, who have been able to construct a method of protecting themselves from criticism that forces the critic to appear as someone who does not ‘get it’. Camp becomes a shield, rendering any attempts to thwart it into the realm of parody.

There are two epilogues to this story.
​The first is to do with Shepard Fairey. In 2001, he launched his own clothing line called OBEY. The clothing utilizes a version of Fairey’s Andre the Giant sticker, as well as ironic appropriations of propaganda and advertisements for the designs of their products. Obey’s logo? A red box with white bolded and italicized san-serif text. Conceptually Obey can be seen as an ironic appropriation of an image (Supreme and its logo), inspired by the ironic appropriation of advertising (Barbra Kruger) and an “exercise in phenomenology” (Fairey’s Andre), bringing the irony full circle quite beautifully. Unfortunately for Obey, They are commonly perceived as a poor man’s Supreme probably due to lack of knowledge of the whole chronology and their product’s wider availability.

The second epilogue is more recent. In April 2013, Supreme filed a ten million dollar suit against a company called Married to the Mob for producing a line of t-shirts with the words ‘Supreme Bitch’ in a style similar to Supreme’s own logo. This lawsuit is made all the more interesting by the fact that Supreme itself is no stranger to incorporating other brands’s logos into designs. In 2004 Supreme was sued successfully by Louis Vuitton for producing a skateboard deck with a pattern highly similar to Louis Vuitton’s monogram pattern, resulting in the the skateboards being recalled. It seems that Supreme is starting to take themselves more seriously, further complicating their relationship to Camp and irony. Perhaps they have become an example of ‘naive’ Camp after all. Complex Magazine reached out to Barbra Kruger to ask for her opinion on the suit. After all, her work at the core of the whole debacle. Her response is worth quoting in full:

​What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers.
​I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce.
​I’m waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright
​infringement.
​Barbara Kruger
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:08 am

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby smiles » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:13 am

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:40 am

hope they continue to put out tools. i wish i had bought that knockoff hermes ashtray though.

wasnt the married to the mob suit because they were trying to trademark 'supreme bitch', or was that not the case?
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:45 am

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:11 am

could be in for these if the fit and stuff is right.

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this would look good with a black overdye imo.

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby germinal » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:16 am

fleece pullover is the stand-out

the shearling and the leather crusher and leather ma-1 and the basquiat m-65 are all going to end up in so many embarrassing fits

fucking lol at the stash box and the wtc pin
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:26 am

germinal wrote:fleece pullover is the stand-out

which one?
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:27 am

i actually want to buy the stash box if it's not like $80, just for the lolz. can't find the basquiat on the preview page.

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby germinal » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:37 am

this one

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby odradek » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:39 am

that's way too nautica for me to handle
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:41 am

i was thinking tommy
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:50 pm

looks like dingus on stock photo. this is sick though

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Re: World's Greatest

Postby RycePooding » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:45 pm

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need this
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby sknss » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:47 pm

i want the wtc pin
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:54 am

cameron are you going on thursday to the drop?
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:48 am

nah ain't nobody got time for that
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:01 am

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someone used to...
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:41 pm

I got in yesterday, pretty standard supreme quality. the shells are aight, honestly the best thing about them is the logo on the hood. fabric's whatever.

picked up an ocbd and a sabbath t, looks like their shirts are a little more modern fitting this season which is a shame.

Oxford fabric on point per usual
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at this point unless one of the outers blows me away I think I'll just be grabbing the selvedge ripstop shirt and call it there for the season.
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby Syeknom » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:45 pm

Fabric and colour look great
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:27 am

yo cameron are you going to the store any time soon? looking for something that might sell out quick when the webshop opens.
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:43 am

I might dip in tmrw what's up
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:58 am

got what i wanted, thanks though.
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby RycePooding » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:08 pm

why won't it accept my, my brothers, or my gfs credit card?
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby can- » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:40 pm

whatever's in your cart is sold out.
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby Syeknom » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:02 pm

That's dark
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby odradek » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:19 pm

something at supreme sold out?
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:44 pm

the stash box is still available though
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby starfox64 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:48 am

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/11/supreme-skateboarding-clothing-underground-fashion-store-chinatown.html

Inside a run-down mall off of Elizabeth Street in Chinatown, down an escalator to the cellar and past a raft of empty storefronts, is a minuscule store, the size of a walk-in closet, that’s quietly at the center of a peculiar global fashion empire. It has no sign and it’s not on the mall directory. It’s impossible to find on Google.

The enterprise, which its owner refers to as Unique Hype Collection, is in the business of buying clothing from the skate-inspired men’s fashion brand Supreme at retail prices, waiting until the items have sold out at Supreme’s physical stores and online shop, and then putting those items up for sale in the mall and on eBay at significant markups. Much of its merchandise goes to Japan, where Supreme goods can cost twice what they do here at retail. On a recent Friday afternoon, a cap that had gone on sale on Thursday at Supreme for forty-eight dollars was on the shelf at Unique Hype Collection for eighty-five dollars, where teen-agers were eyeing it jealously. The store even uses authentic Supreme shopping bags, recycled from purchases made at Supreme.

“I’ve brought in seven figures a year for the last two years,” said Peter, the owner of the store, a thirty-year-old who refused to give his last name or be photographed. “I can’t show my face—I’m under a lot of eyes,” he said, sitting on a stool inside Unique Hype Collection last week. (Peter was actually under only four eyes: two posters of Lady Gaga looking at the camera while modelling a Supreme T-shirt hung on the ceiling above him.) “I do everything myself. With the eBay store, I even pack it and ship it myself,” he said, before pausing and thinking about this for a second. “Actually, I don’t drive myself. I have a driver.”

Peter, who was born in Guangzhou, refers to himself as a “major flipper,” a businessman who will buy and resell, well, anything: “clothing, real estate, food, anything. Like, the day after Obama was elected, I got copies of the Daily News for fifty cents each. I bought every copy. Now they’re twenty dollars!” He adds, “I used to do green-tea Kit Kats. You could sell the bags for sixteen dollars each. There were only two stores in New York that had them, so I called the stores and told them I wanted to buy everything they had whenever they got the Kit Kats in.”

Peter, who has been buying and wearing Supreme clothing since the nineteen-nineties, communicates with other “major flippers” online, discussing potential markets and keeping tabs on the companies whose wares they sell. One major flipper, username “croatianstyle,” a friend of Peter’s (“I party with him when I go to Cali”), recently got a call from Nike after he bought a hundred pairs of Air Yeezy sneakers, the ones designed by Kanye West that can sell for upwards of five thousand dollars a pair on eBay. Peter was more careful: “I only got thirty-five pairs. He attracted too much heat. Too much attention.” Because Peter and other resellers deal in goods whose demand generally wildly exceeds their supply, they don’t compete with each other on price. “If they want to undercut me on price, go ahead. I’ll wait until they sell out and then sell them for even more!”

Supreme clothing is Peter’s signature stock in trade, although he resells a handful of pieces by similar menswear brands if their prices are right. (He also owns a collectible-card store.) The real Supreme has been based out of a store on Lafayette Street in SoHo since it was established in 1994 (and now operates stores in London, Los Angeles, and six in Japan). It was founded by the then-thirty-year-old British émigré James Jebbia, who also had a hand in starting up the downtown skate meccas Union and Stüssy. He is now known among fans of Supreme for his reclusiveness and gruff demeanor, especially with the press, because of his dissatisfaction with Supreme being pigeonholed as skateboarding clothing, and therefore crappy.

Now Kanye West, Drake, Lil Wayne, and Justin Bieber wear its gear. Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, and Richard Prince have designed some of its skateboard decks. Hypebeast, a popular men’s fashion Web site, operates a message board on which a posting about Supreme’s current season has generated more than five million views and nearly eighty thousand replies. Some users post their salaries and discuss how much Supreme clothing they can buy after they pay their taxes. When the brand releases a new season of clothing, Supreme fans set up a sidewalk tent city outside the Lafayette Street store, sleeping on the street for as long as six days for the chance to get the first crack at the merchandise.

Some of the people standing in the Supreme line are secretly Peter’s employees, mostly teen-agers whom he recruits for the line-standing job while they mill around in his collectible-card store. “Everybody has a price,” he notes. “Sometimes it’s only fifty dollars.” The usual rate is a hundred dollars per day of waiting in line. There’s no bonus for inclement weather. He hires between ten and thirty people to stand in line each time Supreme releases clothing, which is generally every Thursday. How do the kids know what to buy? “They know what to buy cuz they been working for me for quite some time lol,” Peter explains via text message.

Supreme has reached its level of popularity through business practices that most brands would find unconscionable. The brand, as a whole, does not seem eager to please. The in-store staff is mostly aloof, surly. (In the nineteen-nineties, staff members were known for walking up behind customers and menacingly telling them that they could not touch the clothing until they bought it.) Staff members keep a handful of sold-out items in the back for when their friends come in. The store’s speakers play rap and heavy metal at nearly wall-shaking volume in the middle of the afternoon. Perhaps most important, the brand makes a lot of clothing that its employees know they will not sell—they sometimes express surprise that customers are buying certain items.

This season, Supreme is selling a zip-up hoodie with a quotation, attributed to the skateboarder Mark Gonzales, that reads, in bright letters across the back, “I’ve never wanted to piss on someones face more than I want to piss on yours.” Many of Supreme’s items sell out online within seconds of going on sale, but the “Piss Face Zip-Up” has not sold out in any color after weeks on the Web site. “I didn’t stock any,” Peter explained. (Perhaps Peter miscalculated—mysteriously, the Piss Face Zip-Up, which costs a hundred and thirty-eight dollars, is sold out in blue in Japan, where it costs two hundred and fifty-eight dollars and thirty cents.)

In the event that an item does sell, according to Peter, Supreme has a plan: “Every other brand besides Supreme sees a design that sells out, and so they make it over and over. But if Supreme knows an item is selling, they’ll stop making it, never make it again, and try something else.” This is why, as Peter explains, “Supreme is the only brand whose clothing becomes more expensive as time passes. Every other brand, except Polo maybe, if you don’t sell it this season, it’s not going to move.”

Inside Unique Hype Collection on a recent Thursday, three teen-age shoppers jostled for space, literally bumping into each other. There was nowhere to stand. Two more, who couldn’t fit, waited their turns outside. Peter wore a Supreme football jersey. On a stool behind the counter sat Lam Xie, Peter’s mother, who gives her age as “fifty-two or fifty-three.” She runs the day-to-day operations and speaks with an encyclopedic knowledge of Supreme clothing and Nike skateboarding sneakers. Her expertise is unexpected in the context of her otherwise limited command of English. She is proud to note that people who work at Supreme are aware of Unique Hype Collection—the brand’s employees have been there.

Ms. Xie grew up in China and got a business degree before moving to the United States and working as a babysitter, which is what she was doing when Peter asked her to run the store. Although many of her customers know her by name and greet her like an aunt, she occasionally embodies the same brusque attitude toward customers that Supreme itself does: “People say it is expensive? You don’t buy! You say, ‘Is it real or fake Supreme?’ If you don’t know, you don’t buy! Get out, don’t buy.”
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Re: World's Greatest

Postby smiles » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:50 am

On a stool behind the counter sat Lam Xie, Peter’s mother, who gives her age as “fifty-two or fifty-three.” She runs the day-to-day operations and speaks with an encyclopedic knowledge of Supreme clothing and Nike skateboarding sneakers. Her expertise is unexpected in the context of her otherwise limited command of English.


awesome.

it's weird to read this article and know exactly where they are getting their sources for some of the information.
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