Why Supreme Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Why Supreme Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Supreme, baby! I just bought a faux-fur
jacket for $1,000, so. People want to know, “Hey, look, that guy’s wearing Supreme.” But people also make a
living off it too, so. Narrator: These two jackets
are nearly identical, both made by The North Face, and both using Gore-Tex technology. This one on the left costs $300. The one on the right is currently
selling for nearly $1,300. So what’s the difference? This one just happens to be a North Face collaboration with Supreme. So why would someone pay
nearly a thousand dollars more for basically the same jacket? And what is it that makes
Supreme so expensive? From the eye-catching logo to
the limited product releases and artist collaborations,
over the past 20 years, Supreme has transitioned from
a small skateboarding store in New York to a $1
billion streetwear company. But for its fans, Supreme
is more than just a brand. It’s often an obsession and an
entire subculture of its own. Since its origin, Supreme has maintained an image of being authentic. Founded by James Jebbia in 1994, Supreme started as a skateboarding store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. The store started out selling
hoodies and sweatshirts aimed towards the burgeoning
New York skate scene. Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, Supreme functioned as a skate brand catering to both skaters
and those interested in the emerging streetwear style. But Supreme’s limited
releases and attitude has pushed them far
beyond their beginnings. The most iconic Supreme
design is their box logo, originally, simple white, italic lettering over a plain red background. This design so closely echoes the work of conceptual artist Barbara Kruger that it is hard not to
see it as a direct copy, and copyright theft is something
that’s in Supreme’s DNA. Supreme’s appropriation of images is one of the keys to its popularity. Pop-cultural imagery and
logos are copied and adapted in a way that makes the designs feel more like contemporary
art or graffiti than a big fashion brand. Supreme’s first branded
T-shirt was simply a photo of Robert De Niro in
the film “Taxi Driver” along with the iconic red-and-white logo. And the company’s use of
often unlicensed imagery has led to Supreme being
served cease-and-desist letters from Louis Vuitton, the NHL, and the NCAA. Dimitrios Tsivrikos: The more
we’ve been exposed to a brand, the more likely we are gonna
be developing an association, a familiarity, almost a
sense of connection with it. With Supreme, there’s
no element of status, and they went completely for what a logo should be all about: standing
out, being identifiable. Narrator: The recognizability is key to Supreme’s power as a brand. But the items are also
purposefully difficult to get ahold of, and
their products are kept in high demand by very limited releases. Chris Magnaye: Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., you go to the Supreme website, you enter your basic information: your name, email, phone
number, and credit-card number. Then, they’ll send you
a text later in the day to let you know if you’ve been
selected to stand in line. Then on Wednesday, they’ll send you a text telling you the time
and store to report to. And on Thursday, you go to the store at the time that you’re given. There’s a one-limit-per-style
rule in Supreme, so what that means is,
if a shirt comes out in black, red, and gray,
you can only get it in gray. So if I want it in black and red, I need to get two other
people to get it for me, so they need to stand in line for me. A lot of the people who do stand in line are standing in line for someone else. Narrator: Supreme only
sells their merchandise at 11 brick-and-mortar
stores across the world as well as their online store. It was around the mid to late 2000s that Supreme really
started to pick up speed. This success was partly due to what’s been dubbed the “Kanye effect.” In 2006, Supreme released
their Supreme Blazer SB, a collaboration with Nike. The shoes retailed for around $150, with resale prices
ranging from $300 to $400. In July 2007, West was
pictured wearing the shoes at the Grammy Foundation’s
Starry Night party. After the photos were released, the resale price of the
shoes doubled to $800. Similarly, the teal box-logo sweatshirt worn by Tyler, the Creator
in his “She” music video, originally priced at around
$150, sold for $3,500. But not everything from Supreme is gonna end up being valuable. Sellers like Chris have to decide what’s going to be popular and what items will give
them the best return. Chris: So how I decide on
what I think is gonna resell is based mainly on what I would wear. You can also go to these
Instagram accounts, and they’ll have Instagram
polls, Twitter polls, talking about, oh, like
you can upvote this, you can downvote this, and
it’s this crowdsourcing tool to understand the market
better and find out, oh, this one’s gonna resell,
or this one is really popular. The most money that I’ve
made off of one Supreme item is the 2017 fall/winter
collaboration with The North Face, and it was a mountain parka. I bought it for $398,
and I sold it for $950. Narrator: This incredibly limited release means that buying and
reselling Supreme items is where the real money is. When you look at the prices
of Supreme items in-store, they aren’t as outlandish
as you may expect. They retail for around $38 for a T-shirt to $138 for a sweatshirt. But it’s once these products have sold out that they can reach 30
times their original price. Many other big brands are now adopting this method of very limited releases to generate hype around their products, from trainers to other streetwear brands. These releases make people feel like they’re part of something exclusive. Dimitrios: The more we
make a consumer work for their particular access to a product, the more alluring these services
and products are becoming. So I think Supreme know very
well how to make something incredibly accessible and sexy by allowing us to jump through
as many hoops as possible to make it relevant for them. Narrator: But there’s
something about Supreme that’s different. Could any other company get
away with selling a brick or a branded crowbar? What is it that gives Supreme
such a devoted following? I think it’s the hype. They come out with really cool items. I personally feel like they do. It’s a name brand, and name brands attract anybody at the end of the day. In New York especially,
it’s a lot of streetwear. So people want to have
those exclusive items. So I feel like Supreme, they
keep their quantities very low because of the high demand. People will pay that price
if it’s something they like. Supreme, I think the thing
that really causes people to spend money and wait in line is kind of the “it factor”
that it has, right? They’ve done an amazing
job of limiting quantities and underproducing to the demand. So in that way, their market of people that would
want to buy the product isn’t just people that are
interested in the product, but it’s also people that are
interested in making money, and that demographic is
way bigger than people that are just interested in streetwear. So when there’s an
opportunity to make money, then there’s gonna be a huge
line of people around the block regardless if they want to
wear the product or not. Narrator: Supreme has
managed to somehow keep their cool, alternative,
and exclusive image despite their expansion
and has still maintained its skater credentials despite selling a 50% stake in the brand
to a private equity firm. With more and more people
wanting their products, for now, it looks like
Supreme isn’t going anywhere.


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