want to know the story behind the Supreme brand and logo? In this article we are going to detail everything you need to know about one of the most recognized and coveted apparel brands in the world today.
The skateboarding and apparel brand Supreme, which has carved a niche for itself in the underground skateboarding, hip hop and rock culture, has made its products very successful. Today, Supreme has established itself as one of the most popular streetwear brands and logos in the world, and has major collaborations with companies such as Nike North Face, Playboy and many others, as well as breaking sales records for its newly launched products.
Given the huge success that the brand and logo have had in recent years, it should come as no surprise that the Supreme logo is now one of the most recognizable in the urban fashion industry. However, the story of how Supreme achieved this level of success, as well as that of its iconic logo, contains both high points of astounding success and instances of considerable controversy.
History of the Supreme brand
The first Supreme store was opened by James Jebbia in midtown Manhattan in 1994. This first store had a unique layout, designed with skateboarders in mind. The store’s products were placed around its perimeter, which left plenty of open space for skaters to skate around the store while browsing its products.
For ten years, the Supreme brand consisted of this one store, but in 2004, Jebbia opened a second Supreme store in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles store was almost twice the size of the New York store and even had an indoor skating rink. Gradually, Jebbia began opening other Supreme stores around the world, including stores in multiple Japanese cities, a store in Paris, and more. All of these stores were built with the same skater-friendly layout as the first Supreme store.
As for the products that Jebbia made available in these stores, the Supreme brand had its own line of clothing and skate items, as well as clothing from other brands such as Nike, Vans spitfire, Thrasher, SB and many others.
As Supreme’s popularity grew, the brand began collaborating with many of these brands rather than just stocking their products. Today, Supreme frequently collaborates with several popular brands, such as Nike, North Face, Hanes, Levi’s and others, to create products that feature both Supreme’s brand and style as well as that of the company they are collaborating with.
In 2017, Supreme became a billion dollar brand, and James Jebbia announced that the company had sold half of its shares (worth about $500 million) to The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.
Since then, the popularity and cult following of the Supreme brand has continued to grow. Today, new Supreme product lines are notorious for selling out in record time, and the resale value of some of the brand’s most popular products often runs into the high thousands of dollars or more.
The fact that Supreme only releases short runs of new products has played a major role in these record sales times and high resale value.
Of course, Supreme’ s iconic logo can be linked to much of the company’s success.
The history of the Supreme logo
When James Jebbia opened the first Supreme store in Manhattan, the store’s main purpose was to sell products from other brands that were popular among the skate community. However, Jebbia wanted to commemorate the store’s opening by selling three original Supreme T-shirts.
The three T-shirts had a very simple design: one with the image of a popular skateboarder on the front, one with the image of a popular musician, and the third with the rather simplistic Supreme logo that Jebbia’s friend had designed for him when he opened the store.
However, it wasn’t long before the T-shirts with the Supreme logo started outselling all the other products in the store, and Jebbia realized he was doing something special with this logo. Jebbia then began designing a wide range of other apparel products with the Supreme logo in a variety of colors.
Before long, the Supreme logo had become a status symbol in New York City street culture, and the groundwork had been laid that would pave the way for the logo to become internationally popular in skate, hip hop and rock circles around the world.
Controversy with designer Barbara Kruger
However, the logo design stirred up some controversy. After a friend of Jebbia’s designed the original Supreme logo, Jebbia felt the logo looked a bit flat. To give the design more depth, Jebbia lent his friend a book by New York conceptual artist Barbara Kruger for inspiration.
In the end, the Supreme logo turned out very similar to the style of Kruger’s artwork, which featured bold white lettering surrounded by a red font to convey a rebellious, anti-capitalist message.
Kruger did not own the copyright to the logo and was unable to take any legal action against Supreme, but that did not stop the artist from commenting that she was very upset that the company had so blatantly co-opted her style.
Despite this controversy, there is no denying that the Supreme logo has proved very lucrative for the brand. The message that Kruger managed to convey with her artistic style fit perfectly with Supreme’s target audience and the popularity of products bearing the Supreme logo skyrocketed, first in New York and then worldwide.
Supreme logo features
The Supreme logo features the company name in a Futura Bold Oblique font, surrounded by a bright red box. It’s a simple design, but the aggressive combination of the typeface and color scheme conveys a rebellious message that connects very well with the brand’s target audience.
This, of course, should come as little surprise, as the artistic style around which the logo is built was carefully developed by an artist who intended to convey that exact message, whether she intended her style to end up as the face of a very popular clothing brand or not.
While it is unfortunate that Barbara Kruger’s work was used in a way that she did not approve of, it should also be noted that appropriation of other artists’ and brands’ styles is commonplace in the skatewear market, and Supreme is not the only brand in this sector to design its logo in this way.
This is not to excuse the appropriation of Kruger’s style, but to say that Supreme was certainly not acting outside the norm when it developed a logo using design elements that were not entirely its own.
Controversy aside, Supreme’s bold and eye-catching logo design has certainly served the brand well, allowing it to subtly speak to the interests of its target audience while still creating a logo that is simple and clean in its design.
What is the typography of the Supreme logo?
The typeface used by Supreme, as we have already mentioned, is Futura Bold Oblique, a very popular typeface among graphic designers. Some very important brands like Nike have used this or similar typefaces in their designs.
The popularity of the Supreme box logo today
Over the years, the Supreme logo has had a huge representation in pop culture. Celebrities such as NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Justin Bieber have been spotted wearing Supreme logo apparel, and Supreme has partnered with an equally wide range of celebrities to create Supreme logo photo shoots, including Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, Neil Young and many more.
Always on the lookout for opportunities to increase the recognition and popularity of its logo, Supreme has engaged in a series of artistic stunts and adventures in which its logo was the centerpiece, including partnering with a British crop circle artist to create a huge crop circle with the Supreme logo at a secret location in California. The crop circle was featured in a short film produced by the company, titled Crop Circles.
Recently, the Supreme logo has been in the news again, stirring up a controversy that almost seems fitting for the brand at this point. This time, however, the controversy involves NBA player J.R. Smith, who was told he would have to cover his tattoo NBA told he would have to cover his Supreme logo tattoo during games or face a fine from the league for promoting someone else’s brand during games. Smith, however, has indicated that he has no intention of covering the tattoo, and Supreme is no doubt thrilled with both the extra publicity and the rebellious stance that plays perfectly with its overall message.
While Supreme products play an important role in a company’s success, some brands establish themselves almost entirely through the popularity and recognition of their logo. This is the case with Supreme, and while the origins of the logo that has made them a global brand may be somewhat controversial, Supreme is one of the few brands that capitalizes on controversy rather than being hurt by it.
what are the keys to Supreme’s brand success?
Here are some of the keys that have contributed to Supreme’s success and are useful for those interested in the world of marketing and advertising, as well as human psychology.
With a level of precision and discipline characteristic of the popular streetwear brand, every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. during the summer/spring and fall/winter seasons Supreme releases a limited collection of products. Demand for Supreme’s releases far outstrips supply, and products often sell out in a matter of seconds. The carefully crafted sales have created a habit that keeps customers coming back to Supreme every week to see what new products are on sale.
This approach is different from designer brands that release an entire collection all at once. The effectiveness of Supreme’s approach should not be underestimated, as habits are part of human nature.
Supreme’s customers automatically check the brand’s website every week at 11:00 a.m. on Thursdays to see what’s new. The fact that launches occur at a certain time reinforces this habit. Customers don’t have to guess when new merchandise will be available; they know the exact times and are always ready to buy.
Even more impressive is the fact that once merchandise is sold out, it is almost never sold again by Supreme. This creates a higher level of desire, as customers know that if they don’t get a piece of merchandise they will never see it again in a Supreme store or on their website. In this way, all Supreme releases immediately become limited edition collections. Since consumers are often driven by the fear of missing out, traffic to Supreme’s website during one of its launches can increase by as much as 17,000%.
2- The power of collaborations
Collaboration with other brands increases Supreme’s audience.
In the early days of Supreme’s existence, its founder realized something interesting. Customers shopping at his store in New York’s Soho used to wear designer clothes along with Supreme.
Then Jebbia realized that customers liked the high-end shopping by pairing Supreme apparel with brands like Louis Vuitton. Since its inception, Supreme has collaborated with other brands, but it was a collaboration with designer label Comme des Garcons in 2012 that was one of the first that significantly increased the brand’s exposure.
Supreme has also collaborated with Lacoste, Nike, Timberland and Louis Vuitton. These collaborations helped elevate Supreme’s status while giving the brands it was associated with more street credibility.
Celebrities, especially those from hip hop culture, have also helped generate word of mouth for the brand with celebrities such as A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator and Kanye West wearing the brand. Once an increasing number of hip-hop fans saw their favorite artists wearing Supreme, the brand expanded.
3- Resales and free publicity
Resale clothing is one of the fastest growing segments of the fashion market, with the second-hand clothing market having grown from $28 billion in 2019 to an estimated $64 billion in 2024.
Many of the customers who rush to get their hands on a Supreme drop often resell their merchandise for up to ten times the original retail price. Items that sell for such a high price only increase the brand’s cache. Then, once someone buys Supreme on the resale market, the person who was once a buyer becomes a reseller who generates an even higher profit margin for the merchandise. This fuels a continuous cycle in the resale market that makes the brand even more exclusive and popular.
This phenomenon was not created by Supreme, but it has fueled the growth of the brand. Many of the customers who make products sell out on Supreme’s website or in stores are only buying them so they can profit in the resale market. Reselling fashion products has become a lucrative business for many.
Social media is a key factor for the resale market, as it facilitates the marketing of exclusive products. In the past, if someone had an exclusive pair of sneakers, they could only market them to their friends and acquaintances. Now, when Kanye West puts on a pair of Supreme and photographs himself on social media, millions of people want to go out and buy the brand.