If you’re into streetwear, then not only are your laces probably undone, but you’ll also be very aware of Supreme. The famous brand, created in 1994, has become a staple of this particular area of fashion, and has - good or bad - become synonymous with queues.
With such a lengthy history for such a relatively young movement, there’s been a healthy range of pieces on offer, most lost to time, or at least sitting prone at the back of a Manhattan thirtysomething’s bottom drawer. Until now, anyway.
Ross Wilson has unselfishly taken up the mantle of the world’s premier Supreme expert, amassing a rather impressive collection, named Wilson’s Vaults, of items from the brand’s birth up until today. And yes, you can cop a look for yourself next month, when it comes to The Idle Man store in Clerkenwell for a two-day exhibition.
Not only will they be showcasing a selection of his private collection, they will also be the exclusive online selling platform for special selected pieces, including the skate deck collaboration with Damian Hirst and the sought-after North Face crossover. In total, more than 1,000 products have been professionally valued and will be up for grabs from 1 February, if you register on The Idle Man’s website.
The in-store exhibition will be open to you lot 2-3 February, so get your arses down and check it out (hopefully queues will be minimal, but you know what you’re like).
Here are a few select pieces from the collection:
Ross says: “To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their original store on Lafayette Street New York, Supreme released a special limited edition t-shirt. “The shirt’s graphic featuring an image of British icon Kate Moss with a contrasting bright red Supreme box logo may have seemed random to some but for those who were around ten years prior it was a nod to the brand’s humble beginnings.
“When Supreme opened the doors of their skate store in downtown New York in April 1994, there was little marketing budget for the shop. The internet was in its infancy back then and social media was non-existent, so they went about promoting their new venture via the traditional skateboard medium of shop logo stickers.
“At the time, the most prevalent adverts around Manhattan’s billboards and bus shelters were for Calvin Klein underwear. The campaign shot by Mario Sorrenti featured a simple black and white image of young supermodel Kate Moss that made a perfect contrast to the bright red box logo that Supreme’s crew strategically stuck on top. The placement of the sticker looked so good it was replicated all over town and there were soon very few CK promo posters that weren’t touched by the Supreme box logo sticker.
“When it came to celebrating their landmark anniversary in 2004, Supreme produced a special commemorative T-shirt featuring the original image of Kate Moss, complete with the red box logo placed as it was back then. This shirt was given to me by then store manager Ryan Hickey as gift back in 2004 and remains one of Supreme’s all time classic designs.”
“Nowadays it’s Supreme’s Box Logo t-shirts/hoodies and their collaborations with The North Face that cause the most hype and anticipation but back in the late 90s and early 00s it was their luggage that sold out before anything else. Supreme backpacks were the first item to really receive cult status, particularly with tourists visiting from Japan who were the early adopters of Supreme becoming a collectible brand.
“After a few years of producing backpacks, Supreme increased their luggage offering to include duffle bags and this camouflage version from 2000 is my all time favourite. This bag has travelled the world with me over the past 18 years and feels almost indestructible! It has an incredible Mary Poppins-style interior that seems to hold way more than you’d expect, interior and exterior pockets and velcro straps for transporting your skateboard when travelling. This was always my go-to bag for my regular visits to NYC and would always become a temporary bed for Squishy, the infamous Pug belonging to former Zoo York skate team manager Dave Ortiz.”
“Having opened the store in 1994 Supreme boss James Jebbia realised most of the skateboard brands based in Southern California had little to no relevance to skaters dealing with the harsh seasons on the East Coast. He aimed to provide his clientele with quality garments on par with core American brands they already favoured such as Ralph Lauren, Champion and Levi’s so teamed up with domestic clothing manufacturer Brents Sportswear to produce a range of cut’n’sew apparel.
“The first ever jacket came in 1995 and featured their “Classic Logo” embroidered on the chest. The logo is a flip on the French fashion house Courrèges and was featured in some of Supreme’s early campaigns. If you look closely you can read the names of all 5 of New York’s boroughs that are subtly printed across the rear hem of the jacket.
“There’s a great picture by photographer Sue Kwon, of the late great MCA from the Beastie Boys wearing this jacket when he met the Dalai Lama to interview him for Grand Royal magazine in 1996. Despite being almost 23 years old, the first Supreme jacket remains a classic piece to this day.”
“The original and still the greatest, Supreme’s Box Logo has become as iconic as Chanel’s interlocking C’s and the Nike Swoosh as a design classic.
“The now infamous logo originally came about when James Jebbia’s friend mocked up some original t-shirt graphics for the store’s opening in 1994. James felt the designs looked a little flat, so he lent the designer a book on New York conceptual artist Barbara Kruger for inspiration. The new Supreme logo was a really bold and simple statement which perfectly complemented the clean style of the store itself. The Box Logo design was a direct homage to Kruger’s “text box” propaganda art style and the first case of the NY skate brand “sampling” other people’s designs – a concept it has successfully run with for the past two decades.
“Over the years the simple Box Logo has appeared on a multitude of t-shirts, hats, hoodies and accessories. One of my preferred Box Logo products are the crewneck sweatshirts and this forest green colour way I purchased at the New York store back in 1999 is a personal favourite.”
If you want to register to be in with a chance of grabbing any of the good stuff, then head on over to The Idle Man’s website here. Good luck - think how good you’ll look in your next water fight, Mr Fancy Pants.