You probably saw on the news or even witnessed the mania first hand as you walked by the ION Louis Vuitton store on Friday, 14th July 2017. Legions of people were queued up in front of the store in anticipation for the Louis Vuitton X Supreme collaboration that was dropping that day. Some avid fans camped out more than 24 hours before the launch date and it certainly caused a major ruckus in town as the paths to ION were clogged with people. It was a sight to behold but also had us wondering, what is it about Supreme collaborations that sends people into a blood-thirsty frenzy? So much so that they will go through any lengths to get their hands on these Supreme products.
We are baffled ourselves. Fashion aside, the designs are nice enough but do not warrant this incredible hype that Supreme is receiving internationally. Furthermore, when we look at the crowd that gathered in front of Louis Vuitton that day, it was not a bunch of hypebeast aficionados but a mixed bag of people from all walks of life. So we decided to get our fashion investigation hats on and spoke to people, both within the Singapore hypebeast community and those who recently got out, to find out the supreme allure of this streetwear brand.
What is Supreme?
First and foremost, we need to chat about the brand’s humble beginnings. Supreme was, once upon a time, just like any other American streetwear brands such as UNDFT and Stüssy. Since it’s inception in 1994, majority of its customers were people in the skateboarding community and young adults. Their initial price range was actually affordable for the quality of the products they are producing. What drove the prices up was the resell market for skate paraphernalia. Supreme does not mass produce and they are known for that. Hence, the limited quantities of each product drove the prices upwards, slowly but surely to the crazy heights that it has reached now.
Related article: Fans Queued Overnight For Louis Vuitton And Supreme Collaboration
What caused this major hype?
Like with any trend, they get more popular when celebrities and people we look up to for style inspirations start picking it up. All of a sudden, what you may not have paid attention become desirable. When artists such as A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator and Kanye West don the red and white logo, they inject the brand with a level of swag that people who love the hip hop community aspire to have. This increased Supreme’s fan base from just the skateboarding community. Eventually, as hip hop culture become more and more mainstream with the proliferation of rap music and hypebeast trends, Supreme becomes the standard of effortless swag. Robert, a 19-year-old student and avid member of Singapore’s streetwear Facebook community said he first got into Supreme after he saw his favourite rappers and celebrities wearing the brand,
“When I checked it out, I saw how expensive the items were on eBay and how hard it was to get it retail, which made the brand more intriguing to me.”
Why do people queue up for Supreme?
It’s simple economics. It’s all about demand and supply. Supreme’s tactic is to create a limited supply, relative to the demand. Unlike other skate brands or even Nike and Adidas, Supreme never has a constant supply of merchandise available for customers to shop whenever they please.
Instead, Supreme is famous for making “drops”, where they release limited amounts of new collections and designs at specific timings. After the drop is done and the items are sold out, the items are never restocked and thus gone forever. Essentially turning every collection they make into a limited edition one. And in the hypebeast/sneaker community, there are no two words more magical than “limited edition”. Limited edition items are gold in the resell market as they have a one-of-a-kind quality about them that collectors can’t resist.
The resell market has also turned Supreme into some sort of subculture within the whole hypebeast community. Where teenage kids queue up for hours on end to get their hands on the new designs “dropped” before selling it almost immediately to adult streetwear aficionados who will pay any price for the merch, driving the prices to unimaginable heights. Then the people who bought the items can resell them again after they are done with it at an even higher price, creating a vicious cycle.
This also results in kickback from others who were once into Supreme but have become alienated by the extreme hype. Nigel, a university student who still actively purchases Supreme merch laughed when asked if he liked Supreme as a brand,
“I don’t give a f*ck about Supreme to be honest. Way too overhyped. It’s more about the resell value for me so I don’t care what I grab.”
Related article: Louis Vuitton And Supreme Confirm The Location Of A First Pop-Up
The Supreme Craziness
Now the hype has reached its peak. In Singapore alone, when the LV X Supreme collab dropped, people queued for days to get in and those who scored a raffle ticket bought as many as they were allowed. The crazy thing was that there were people crowding at the Louis Vuitton ION’s exit waiting for the raffle ticket winners so that they could buy the stuff they just bought off them immediately. Once the items were put up on sale on Carousell, the offers kept coming in. Robert bought 5 items and spent over $4000 at the Singapore LV X Supreme drop. He placed all 5 items on sale and has over 30 offers for each one, most offering twice the items’ retail value.
“When the doors opened, we rushed up the ION LV staircase, pushing and shoving to be the first. It was the craziest thing I’ve experienced. I pretty much had a tug-of-war over the last brown LV Supreme belt.”
The people who can truly afford these Supreme collabs are not ones to queue up. So most of the people in line are there simply to resell the items. Despite all this craziness, the demand for Supreme products is still there and sky rocketing with each collaboration. Be it with a fashion house like Louis Vuitton or even Braun, a company that sells appliances (Supreme made an alarm clock with them), it seems like everyone is riding the Supreme hype train. And it’s not looking to slow down anytime soon.
Related article: Confirmed: Louis Vuitton x Supreme Is Now A Reality