James Jebbia is usually one to shy away from interviews, but in anticipation for Supreme's new location opening in Paris later this week, the man behind the brand sat down with The Business of Fashion. In the rare interview, Jebbia dishes on building the brand, expanding in France, and how he feels about fashion embracing skate culture.
Before it was confirmed, rumors were swirling for months that Supreme would be opening a new store in France, but not everyone was excited about the move. Jebbia addresses those who think that moving to Paris will somehow take away from the brand's integrity saying, “It’s funny, we get a lot of people bent out of shape who say, ‘Oh, these guys are going to fall off now that they’re opening in Paris.’ I’m not really concerned if people have this purist view of the New York Supreme thing. If they think opening our shop in Paris is going to harm our brand, then we can’t really be that strong of a brand.”
The Supreme locations worldwide have become a destination for cool kids trying to get their hands on the brand's coveted items. But even though people are willing to wait in lines for hours to try and cop a rare box logo tee or pair of sneakers, Jebbia says that Supreme isn't the exclusive brand some people want it to be—it is more than that.
Supreme first set up shop in New York in 1994, but Jebbia explains that the brand is greater than just a location in the city. “I’ve seen a lot of brands fail because they went, ‘Hey, look, we’re from New York, and that’s what we’re all about.’ But wherever you go, people are proud of where they are,” he said. “So even though we’re from New York, what we do is a mindset: it’s got to work in Japan, in Los Angeles, London, wherever.”
When asked about fashion's move towards embracing skate culture, Jebbia says he's on board with giving people what they want. "It’s a good thing, because before we were one of the only brands doing that kind of thing," he said. "Now it’s just more open and that’s great,” he told BoF. “I think it’s cool because they’re making things people really want to wear. And that’s what we do: we make things people want to wear — not in fantasy land. Oftentimes you’ll see pictures from fashion shows and all the models outside the show in their real clothes are wearing brands like Supreme.”
As the brand continues to expand, Jebbia makes it clear that he would never do anything that would take away from the brand. “As a small brand, we do it all,” he said. “We don’t need an investor. We would never go anywhere or do anything where we feel it would compromise what we do.”