Tremaine Emory Goes Deep on His Turbulent Time With Supreme Prior to Abrupt Exit

The Denim Tears founder spoke in depth with Touré about the cancellation of a planned Supreme collaboration with Arthur Jafa, plus much more.

Image via Getty/Rob Kim

Tremaine Emory sat down with Touré on his podcast to discuss his arduous tenure as creative director of Supreme, which led to his departure due to alleged systematic racial issues within the company.

Emory claims the issues with Supreme started from the beginning, comparing his experience to a game of Whac-A-Mole. The designer said Supreme founder James Jebbia acted as the brand's creative director, even though that title belonged to Emory.

The 42-year-old's exit coincided with the "cancellation" of a planned collaboration with Arthur Jafa. Emory recalled Jebbia's enthusiasm about the possibility of working with Jafa, who only accepted the offer because of the Denim Tears founder's involvement with Supreme.

Emory told The Washington Post in a piece published earlier this month that Jebbia "removed images of a lynching and a formerly enslaved person" from the collaboration without speaking with him first. The designer claims use of these images was previously supported by Jebbia.

"We have to do this," Jebbia allegedly told Emory before pointing to the image of a lynching, adding, "This is important for people to see because it's still happening to Black people."

Emory got into how his observations of systematic racial issues within Supreme were exhibited in this situation. At the 38:40 mark of the episode, Emory called Supreme "thoughtless" for not speaking with the team ahead of time about the controversial images being used in their Jafa collab. By not doing so, two Black employees in the company openly voiced their displeasure with the move.

Following his resignation, Emory said he had a four-hour conversation with Jebbia, who allegedly told him that he didn’t realize his own white privilege until a decade ago.

Emory explained he resigned because of Supreme's "thoughtlessness and their lack of response when I was trying to garner discourse." He went on to question the hypocrisy of a company that leans heavily into Black culture, using such images as Prodigy in jail with "HNIC" on it, but became wary of using historical imagery in the Jafa collab.

At the 51-minute mark, Emory said he was against the idea of putting out an NBA YoungBoy shirt in light of a video surfacing showing him physically abusing a woman. Listen to the full Touré Show episode here.

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