Supreme is not a brand—it is a cult. Supreme serves a mediating function between a need of self-transcendence and its fulfilment. Originally inspired by American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger’s Supreme Box Logo, it embodies the main principle of her work: “I shop therefore I am.” Standing for the current underground culture in the world of Kardashians, Supreme parades the foolishness of the above-ground culture before itself.
Intentionally or not, Supreme asserts its philosophy in a religion-like frame—rituals, temples and prophets.
Supreme rituals, like those between clergy and worshippers, are weekly commitments. Every Thursday morning, Supreme holds its service in their 10 stores locations. It reveals 5 to 15 new items, creating huge lines of pilgrims down and around city blocks. To feel the energy of the Supreme underground devotion, imagine an Apple store, way less white and way more nihilistic.
While collaborating with the world's biggest brands, Supreme also baptizes them. Levi’s, CDG, Nike join the church of underground elite. They understand that they add foolishness to the planet, yet seek the blessing of “cool” by Supreme.
Supreme temples are more than retail stores; they are a space to witness and experience. Its item curation and interior design underwhelm, which creates an atmosphere of solemn courage to engage with silenced narratives. For example, currently New York SoHo location is featuring the printouts of the gunshots on its walls, acknowledging the context of recent social conflicts. Lots of products are dedicated to political and social leaders, who happen to be black.
Supreme prophets are those who share Warhol’s attitude to modern context. They are found even in outdoor prints with designs as simple as it can possibly get. Look at the poster for half a second and the voice it talks in is immediately recognized. It is very condensed, the same way as street art is. As a result of their effortless brand efforts, Supreme followers can feel they are “buying a work of art and piece of history.”
Like all good cults, Supreme also has a rational, market appeal. It is a very liquid asset. The majority of its items can be resold, often with 300% mark up. As one of follower comments, “Supreme is all about resale value, even if you do not intend to sell.”
Supreme brand is, most of all, authentic. It defines itself organically, not synthetically (unlike say, Nike). Supreme was founded by skating legends who already knew what they stood for, so it does not need to consciously create its identity. Creators write their own stories and values into the Supreme bible. It is not just a community, not just a brand, but a new reality, with Supreme as its gospel.