Fans and muggles alike would know Supreme, one of the ultimate streetwear brands every enthusiast probably owns. It sits at the top with Off-White and other brands. Each drop is hot—in layman’s terms, it gets sold out in a split second online and people actually line up for days to own anything Supreme. We can’t blame people if it can also be a really effective way to make money, fast. But Supreme’s reign may be at risk with the birth of Supreme Italia—a legal fake; a ripoff of a ripoff.
Supreme was born in New York. The brand’s father James Jebbia has built the brand up from ripping off designer brands and incorporating it with his own line of streetwear. This we know by watching Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj on Netflix. In the Supreme episode, we have been enlightened by how much Supreme has fooled us into thinking they’re new and unique. Sure, Jebbia was smart enough to observe that skaters actually fuse cheap streetwear with designer goods. But it’s not so smart to imitate, appropriate, pay homage—whatever you call it—the work of Barbara Kruger, a propaganda artist. But this consumerist move is now being countered by the birth of ‘legal fake’, something that we would much rather call a movement.
“Having underestimated the Italian market, the brand won’t act until the legal fake will spread outside Italy, or until, in order to sell more, it will higher its standards in terms of fonts, logo, releases, etc.,” says Alessandro Altamore of Maison Group in an interview with NSS Magazine in an attempts to understand how a ‘legal fake’ like Supreme Italia came to be. But it seems as if this is happening too quickly. Supreme Italia is set to open its flagship store in Shanghai, China. After losing their case in Italy over the boxed logo and branding, Supreme may be looking at another case against the brand. This isn’t something new for Supreme since they’ve already sued Leah McSweeney of Married to the Mob for producing products with ‘Supreme Bitch’ printed in the red boxed logo format. It seems like the legal department of Supreme is the busiest of all but they should probably be working on originality more, don’t you think?
In the same interview with NSS Magazine, Valerio Ghisi of Stone Group said that “the Supreme Italia phenomenon is rooted within an increasingly large portion of ignorant and passive consumers. I’m talking about those who are influenced by any proposal without estimating its potential range, who are aware of a particular brand just because of its exposure, without digging deeper.” This is the truth about Supreme. In any random bazaar in the Philippines alone, we’ll see a bunch of Supreme knock-offs. Kids would wear them as they declare to follow the ‘hypebeast’ lifestyle. This is something Supreme didn’t really pay attention to.
Consumers don’t really care what’s in the logo. As long as it’s red, boxed, printed on a shirt or hoodie, people will buy it—maybe even for the same price as the original ones. This makes us vulnerable in the battle for consumerism. We’re being played for a fool and the existence of ‘legal fakes’ give us the upper hand now. We’re no longer slaves of overpriced streetwear—not to mention the crowbars and bricks Supreme came up with. Supreme opened a can of worms in the streetwear industry. Being a ripoff from the beginning, they now face the consequences of being ripped off. “Making as much money as possible playing on misinformation and using another’s creativity is the only goal,” Ghisi adds. What will happen to Supreme Italia as it crosses oceans to open its flagship in China? Perhaps, a lawsuit. That’s what they do best after all.