That Time James Jebbia Gave a Rare Interview and Talked About Supreme's History and Its Popularity in Japan...

James Jebbia sat down with Glenn O'Brien for a rare interview, perhaps one that's more telling than you'd expect.

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Every Thursday, we dig up a favorite piece from the archives and bring it back to life. Today, we're highlighting an interview between James Jebbia of Supreme and Glenn O'Brien that appeared in Interview Magazine in February 2009. If you haven't read it, consider this a blessing. 

Supreme was a major player in the streetwear scene by 2009. In fact, even writer Glenn O'Brien, who interviews James Jebbia here and is nearly twice the age of most of Supreme's customers, is both a fan of the label and understands its importance. In this rare sit-down for Interview Magazine, the two talk about Supreme's beginnings, why the brand is so popular in Japan (and how it became so in demand), and the importance of developing a signature aesthetic. There is also a moment where O'Brien recalls back to his first time visiting a Supreme shop. 

James Jebbia says Supreme has never been "supply demand."
"I don’t wish for anybody to go out of business, but I think there are far too many things in New York that really shouldn’t be here. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for more than 20 years, so three or four times I’ve been through things where it’s like, 'Wow, it’s a tough time.' Ever since September 11, I’ve been quite conservative in what we’ve ordered. We’ve never really been supply-demand anyway. It’s not like when we’re making something, we make only six of them. But if we can sell 600, I make 400. We’ve always been like that—at least for the past seven or eight years. For every season, we put in a lot of work to try to create exciting stuff. So it’s not like in these difficult times we’re going to suddenly pull up our socks—we’ve always been busting our asses every single day to try to get it right."

Jebbia says he opened Supreme in 1994 because there weren't any real skate shops around that made good-looking clothes. 


Jebbia believes it's important to keep an eye on what's going on in fashion, but to stick to what you do well. 

JJ: "Definitely. I feel like A.P.C. has done a great job of really sticking to what they do. They keep an eye on what’s going on in fashion, but it’s always rooted in a ’60s kind of French style. Our stuff is pretty similar each season, but we keep an eye on what’s going on, and it’s always fresh, and there’s always, I think, a sense of the early ’90s to it. That era is definitely a big influence running through everything we do—that was a really special time. And since we started back then, I think it’s fine for us to always look to that era and get a lot of influence from it. It’s not nostalgic—it’s more like it’s a part of us."

Jebbia says he chose the name Supreme because it sounded like a good name for a retail shop, but wasn't intended to turn into a brand. 

GO: "Interview is kind of like that. Somebody has an Interview out in Russia now. But you also have a great logo, so that probably makes it easier in a way."

Despite Supreme's success in Japan, Jebbia explains he didn't target that audience. Instead, the Japanese found Supreme

JJ: "Yeah. Do you go to Japan much?"

Click here for the full interview. 

For more Throwback Thursday reading, just click here.

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