Every season, Supreme uses its clothing as a canvas for a slew of music, art, and film references. The items are pretty much guaranteed to sell out, but there’s no denying that most people wearing the pieces are doing it because it’s Supreme, not because of their fandom for Morrissey or Barrington Levy.
The brand’s collaboration paying homage to cult ‘60s rock band Velvet Underground is the latest example of this. The New York-based group was founded in 1964 by John Cale and Lou Reed, and originally managed by legendary pop artist Andy Warhol. Some may remember a much older Reed from the 2009 installment of Supreme’s ongoing series of photo T-shirts on which he was wearing a black box logo T-shirt and aviator sunglasses with his arms crossed. Other original members of the band included guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker.
Velvet Underground’s debut project The Velvet Underground & Nico is the main inspiration for Supreme’s collection. It was released in 1967 and featured guest vocals from German singer Nico as well. It’s well-known for its banana sticker album artwork designed by Warhol. The project covered darker subjects like drug abuse, and was highlighted for its experimental sound. While controversial and poorly received at the time, the work is now regarded as one of the most influential in the history of the genre.
Supreme has made it a habit to showcase important musicians from all genres across its 25 year operation. A collection of names ranging from Raekwon to the The Misfits can be seen represented in its archive. While these two examples are drastically different, they each have carved out a meaningful legacy in their own way, just as Velvet Underground has done. It makes sense why they are the latest act Supreme has decided to shed light on. The New York connection, another thing the brand is known to highlight often, probably doesn’t hurt either.
Anyone who copped the collab today, and is wondering what the hell the graphics mean, check out our breakdown of the Velvet Underground x Supreme pieces below.
One of the highlights for many will be this short sleeve rayon shirt. The design is available in either black and white. Each is covered in an all-over print of the band’s fourth studio album Loaded. The LP was released in 1970, and was the final album that featured founding member Lou Reed. Considered less experimental than prior offerings from the group, it included the popular tracks “Sweet Jane” and “Rock & Roll.”
The ringer T-shirt features black-and-white portraits of all five original band members. Lou Reed, Nico, and Sterling Morrison are emblazoned on the front, while John Cale and Maureen “Moe” Tucker are displayed on the back portion. Three color options will be available, but the standout has to be the teal with bright yellow cuffs.
Easily the most eye-catching piece from the collaboration is the Nico hoodie. This features a large all-over print of German singer Nico performing at one of Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows. She was featured on three tracks of the group's 1967 debut project. The banana cover for this project is the more well-known artwork. It was designed by Andy Warhol.
A much more simplistic hoodie design, this option has a portrait of the band stamped at the front. The tracklist for the group’s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico can be seen in large white lettering across the back.
Another graphic T-shirt from the range, this one features a drawing of the band that looks like it was created in a kindergarten classroom. The playful imagery was used on posters for Velvet Underground’s live performance at the Boston Tea Party, located in Boston, during December 1968.
"Velvet Underground & Nico" T-Shirt
Yet another graphic paying homage to the band’s debut LP, this features photos of each member from the album’s back cover on the chest. The album title, list of band members, and their respective roles are all printed on the back.
The final item from Supreme’s upcoming collaboration is another graphic T-shirt. This one showcases the same group photograph seen on the hoodie, but replaces the tracklisting with the cover of the 1963 novel Velvet Underground by Michael Leigh that the band derived its name from.