Supreme Is Genius, But Annoying

(Alex Leach/HighSnobiety)

For the last two years, I lived on Lafayette Street in SoHo. My commutes often involved walking on said street to get to class, the gym, KITH, etc. But on Thursdays, I would make it a point to cross to Crosby Street. Why? To avoid the Supreme line.

Thursday is the day the Supreme drops new gear. The uber-popular streetstyle brand draws hypebeasts to line up for hours in order to purchase their limited edition items. The reason behind this phenomenon can be explained through high-school-level economics: they only make a small amount (low supply), people want it (high demand), and so they jack up their prices (high price point).

It’s brilliant.

It’s also really, really annoying.

Here’s my qualm about Supreme: their gear is garbage. If their stuff was high quality, I would not complain. But I have never seen something made by Supreme that had innate value except for that it has a red logo on it that says “Supreme”.

The worst part is, they don’t even make their own products. They simply curate their items and put their box logo–or “bogo” for short–on them. Yet the value of these items increase exponentially as the bogo is placed on them.

Last night I stumbled upon this article that had a collection of Supreme products in their original form without the bogo. The writer of this article Alec Leach asks “Is it still lit if it doesn’t come with a Bogo on it?”

The answer is no. And that’s my whole point: Supreme is absolute trash, and we as a streetstyle community should stop wasting thousands of dollars on purchasing what belongs in a plastic bag with banana peels and half-eaten donuts.

But this problem is not unique to Supreme. Today’s media has invariably shaped the way that value is being assigned to nearly everything. Since the popularization of Google, which ranks its search results by popularity, society has slowly shifted to equating prevalence as relevance and fame as merit (for more on this, check out Siva Vaidhyanathan’s The Googlization of Everything). People judge each other by the number of friends and followers on social media, as though the metric of excellence is publicity. So many terrible movies made millions just because they had popular characters in them i.e. Spider-Man. And don’t forget that Macklemore–who was more prominent in popular culture than Kendrick Lamar that year–won four Grammys in 2014 instead of Kendrick and then proceeded to pull a Homer Simpson disappearing act from the music industry.

Supreme is perhaps the best case study of the flaws that comes with new media: the brand is considered good because it is popular, not because it is good. This is the same critique waged at the Kardashians, who built an empire not from conventional talent but rather the fact that they are famous.

Fame, popularity, and publicity are now quantifiable currencies. We cannot entirely fault Supreme for taking advantage of that; consumers willingly partook in the rise of Supreme.

But this points to a bigger society issue: if popular = good, how can we censor popular things that are bad? What if, hypothetically, there was a presidential candidate who focused on being popular during his campaign instead of being good and won the election despite being a racist, misogynist, and homophobic bigot? Who do we fault: the president or the public?

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