It’s 9:59 a.m. in the Information Commons. It’s a nice Thursday morning, with the sun shining, the birds chirping. A lot is going on today, but most importantly, the next release of Supreme is dropping at exactly 10:00 a.m. As Mr. Moyse in the Commons quiets the rowdy students, the clock strikes 10. The students quickly click the refresh button on their browsers as they see the new collection. Each student tries to quickly check out, but much to his chagrin, he sees the demoralizing “sold out” sign. Third period continues, but these students all wallow in their pity.
This scene is common on Thursday mornings during the Supreme Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter Season, but why? What’s the point? I’ll try to break down every facet of Supreme for you, and as a fellow Supreme ‘hypebeast’, I know the agony of failing to check out.
What is Supreme?
Founded by James Jebbia in 1994, Supreme is more than just a clothing company. It is a culture. However, it had quite humble beginnings, originally starting as a skateboarding brand. It originally had one flagship store on Lafayette Street in New York, and this was the only place in the world where you could buy it.
However, now, this huge brand has picked up plenty of steam and has placed 10 more stores across the globe, including in Paris, London, Los Angeles, and many cities in Japan. Their most recent store was opened up in Brooklyn, New York in early Oct. 2017.
Even though it is technically still a skating brand, Supreme has sold and still sells tons of items, from baseball bats, to pinball machines, to Air Jordan sneakers, to simple t-shirts.
Supreme is notorious for having a very expensive markup after retail, so it is pretty common for people to pay at least twice the retail for a nice item. Sometimes, very coveted items will sell for over 5 times their retail price, like this box logo hooded sweatshirt!
Each week, Supreme releases a variety of items for sale in-store and on their website.
How do I buy it?
Getting into Supreme can be a very hard thing to do. For one, the retail prices are pretty high considering the quality of the items, and because almost everything can sell out within a few seconds (depending on the item), it can be hard to make an online purchase, especially if you do not know what you’re doing.
So, for starters, I’ll first explain when Supreme drops.
Every year, Supreme has two seasons: a Spring/Summer season, which ranges from mid-February to late June/early July, and a Fall/Winter season, which ranges from mid-August to late December. We are currently in Spring/Summer of 2018, which is abbreviated as SS18.
During the seasons, there are usually about 19 total drops, which happen both online and in-store.
To purchase an item in-store, you have to line up on Monday morning at a store to get a ticket, then on Thursday of that same week, you line up again and buy what you want. These lines can get very long, so many people end up camping overnight just to get their hands on some Supreme.
To purchase an item online, it’s quite easy in theory, yet because so many people are trying to buy online as well, it can become quite difficult. The online shop is updated around 11:00 a.m. local time in New York, Japan, and London.
Because some items sell out in less than 10 seconds, you have to have some quick fingers to refresh the page, put the item in your cart, and successfully check out without your card getting declined.
It is very important that you know what you want to buy before 11:00 a.m. EST rolls around, because if you are indecisive, the item you want will probably be sold out by the time you want to buy it.
Why is it so hard to buy?
For many years, hundreds of thousands of people have bought Supreme. Despite this, Supreme is infamous for being very hard to buy. Many factors account for why Supreme is so elusive.
First, you have to realize that you are not the only one trying to buy Supreme on Thursday morning. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world are using multiple devices to try to just buy one item, so the chances of one person manually getting more than 2 or 3 hyped items is very slim.
Second, not just humans are buying Supreme. Automated bots also buy Supreme, and people pay for these bots to automatically buy the items they want in a fraction of a second. These bots can beat even the fastest of humans, but luckily, Supreme has been cracking down on bots recently so more people can buy it manually.
Third, you could get cart jacked. Cart jacking is when you have an item in your cart, but as you check out, the item is sold out. This happens because everyone else checked out faster than you.
In order to guarantee the item you want, you need to get a confirmation from Supreme that says that you successfully checked out.
Fourth, the website could crash. This also relates back to the first one, because when there are a lot of people on Supreme’s website, it is pretty common for the servers to crash. This basically means that the website is frozen, and there is a good chance that you won’t be able to get anything.
Lastly, Supreme can be hard to buy because it may not release at 11:00 a.m. EST exactly. Supreme has dropped up to a minute before or after this time, so you always need to be ready to refresh the page. This means you need a strong internet connection, because it can take awhile to refresh the website.
How do I know what to buy?
Because Supreme comes out every week, there are constantly leaks and previews of what’s coming up.
This is especially helpful if there is a very hyped item for a particular week, like a box logo or a coveted collaboration.
I personally use these a lot so I can see how good or bad a week may be. Many times, Supreme will drop some really ugly items, like these Obama shirts.
Why is it so popular?
To any ordinary person unfamiliar with Supreme, buying a $120 Supreme brick seems ridiculous. I mean, can’t you just buy a regular clay brick for just a couple of bucks? Well, yes, but that brick doesn’t say “Supreme” on it.
This phenomenon is very weird, because Supreme can pretty much write their name on anything, and it will sell. That’s how much power they have. However, if you think about it, this marketing plan is pretty ingenious. They have gotten so many people to follow their brand, that no matter what they do, Supreme will still be profitable.
I have fallen victim to this brilliant marketing scheme, as I have bought numerous items that seem weird, including a $80 Supreme plastic soup bowl and a $120 t-shirt with just a picture of Michael Jackson on it.
I remember trying to explain to my grandparents what Supreme is and how it works, and they just didn’t understand the concept of buying normal clothes and random accessories for hundreds of dollars.
To many people, Supreme’s items may seem pretty run-of-the-mill. Their most popular shirts literally have the word “Supreme” on them in Futura Bold Italic font, yet these items always sell for crazy amounts of money.
However, because of Supreme’s popularity, there are plenty of people who make fake Supreme to try to make a profit. These people are very much disdained by the streetwear community, and to combat this, companies like StockX and events like SneakerCon have authentication checks to ensure that what people are buying and selling is authentic.
One big reason for Supreme’s cult-like following lies in its limited nature. There are only 3 Supreme stores in the United States, with two of them being in New York City alone. Therefore, only a small amount of people have access to these stores on a weekly basis.
Also, within these stores and the online ones, the amount of apparel is limited. Very limited.
In an interview with Interview, the founder of Supreme, James Jebbia, explained why Supreme is limited.
“We’ve never really been supply-demand anyway. It’s not like when we’re making something, we make only six of them. But if we can sell 600, I make 400. We’ve always been like that—at least for the past seven or eight years.”
No matter how many people want Supreme, Supreme will keep making their items limited. If they wanted to, Supreme could make a lot more money, but they choose to make their items more limited so they are more special.
Next, Supreme is very popular because of the huge clout it has accumulated in the fashion world. With collaborations with big brands, like Champion, Nike, and Jordan, Supreme has shown that it is big enough to compete with top-level companies.
Not to mention, their recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton made people go crazy over it, and now, the resale for those items is also crazy. Click here if you are interested in buying any of these items. I’m pretty sure the cheapest thing there is a Supreme x Louis Vuitton luggage tag for about $650.
Additionally, Supreme has used the talents of very skilled artists like Mike Hill, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Kaws by putting their artwork on their pieces, like their shirts and skate decks.
These awesome collaborations cause a lot of hype to be formed around certain items, thus causing many people to buy it.
Finally, the last main reason Supreme is so popular is because of celebrity endorsement. Popular celebrities like Kanye West, Odell Beckham Jr., and Justin Bieber often wear Supreme, so many people follow that trend and wear Supreme as well.
What’s the point?
Now that you’re at the end of the article, you may be wondering why some people buy Supreme. After all, it’s just clothes, right? Well, sort of.
Many people buy Supreme to resell it. I personally buy a lot of Supreme to resell, because it’s so easy to make a profit. Typically, I can make up to $100-$200 profit per week just off of Supreme, so it’s easy to make money.
The resell market of Supreme is crazy. Literally minutes after a drop, you can check resell apps like Grailed, eBay, and StockX and see thousands of listings for Supreme items that dropped minutes before.
Other people buy Supreme to wear it. Because each Supreme piece is unique and it probably won’t ever release again, people like to keep their items and wear them. People like to go out and wear stuff that they know no one else has. I also have a collection of my own, and I have some cool pieces that I wear pretty regularly.
The last group of people who buys Supreme are what the streetwear culture calls “hypebeasts.” These are people who buy Supreme just to “flex” on other people. While this is generally frowned upon, it can sometimes be funny to wear your super-limited Supreme piece(s) and show them off.
My most recent “flex” was when I wore my Nike x NBA x Supreme shooting sleeve to my bowling matches. Of course, this sleeve isn’t necessary, but it is fun to wear it.
So, hopefully you learned a thing or two about the streetwear giant that is Supreme. If you want to follow up with any additional comments, feel free to contact me!
I find Supreme fascinating because of how much it has evolved over time. It went from a measly skate shop on Lafayette Street in Manhattan to a global phenomenon, connecting huge amounts of people, from teenagers to adults.
Do you find Supreme interesting? Consider writing about it in The Roundup. Anyone can write, and all you have to do is contact Dr. Degen to get started.