If you've been following Supreme's rise since the mid '90s, or at least have studied up enough to know the cultural importance of its launch and the near-simultaneous arrival of Kids, then you know that getting some detailed insight into the brand's story from founder James Jebbia is a very rare thing.
But in a new GQ piece by Noah Johnson, we are given exactly that.
"The reason that we do things the way we do is because we respect the customer," Jebbia, who said no to an in-person chat but ultimately agreed to field written questions by way of "an in-house interlocutor," said of the brand's oft-emulated drop strategy.
As for what influenced the team in the early days, which Kids writer Harmony Korine recalled as being centered more on a "raw" hangout than a traditional business, Jebbia pointed to those who most frequented the original New York locale: true skaters.
"They would wear cool shit; they wouldn't wear skate clothes," Jebbia said. "It would be Polo, it would be a Gucci belt, it would be Champion. We made what we really liked. And it kind of was a gradual thing. From a few tees, a few sweats, a pair of cargo pants, a backpack. But the influence was definitely the young skaters in New York." Jebbia also pointed to Japan and London as influential.
As for specific brands, Jebbia was quick to note that Helmut Lang was "really important, personally" at the time.
The full piece goes deep on the brand’s expansion from a New York landmark to an international juggernaut with locations in Paris, London, Los Angeles, and Japan. Additionally, the brand's alleged billion-dollar valuation and the brand launch’s inadvertently excellent timing ahead of the inaugural X-Games, the release of the aforementioned Kids, and the release of the equally influential Clueless are rightfully pointed to as focal points in the larger Supreme narrative.
Moving forward, Jebbia and the brand are inspired by the open-mindedness of young people. "We're not stuck in a box," Jebbia said.
The full thing is here. You should read it.