The streetwear world was rocked this week by the news that historically-inaccessible brand Supreme, frequently called the “Chanel of streetwear” had been sold to VF Corporation, owner of Dickies, Timberland, Vans, and the North Face.
The deal, which sets the iconic brand’s value in the realm of $2.1 billion, raises a lot of questions about what Supreme looks like in the future. If you have a brand based on scarcity and exclusivity, what happens when it goes corporate?
For their part, VF says they won’t be making major changes; Supreme’s leadership will stay in place and the brand will remain headquartered in New York. And this has seemed an inevitable progression on Supreme’s part since they started taking private equity investment in 2014 — and, notably, selling a 50% stake in 2017 to PE juggernaut the Carlyle Group.
Some analysts see this as a pivot for Supreme away from their dalliances with the luxury market and back towards their East Coast skate roots, which would put them in keeping with general industry trends; others seem certain this is an inevitable trajectory away from cool. Yet others are framing it as “just another sick collab” — so it remains to be seen.
Street artist Futura earned his cred on the rails of New York in the 70s and 80s—a product of the same “subway school” of artists that carried Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring to instant acclaim. He’s a collaborator extraordinaire, historically known for his willingness to blur the boundaries between street, gallery, and commercial work — and his work makes it clear that commerce need not dilute creativity.
In honor of our Nike SB Dunk High “FLOM” drop, Eileen G’Sell profiles the New Yorker’s New York artist, and his history of creative collaboration.
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