MY LOVE / HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH #SUPREME: PHOTOSHOOT WITH @YMANIBARBEE AND @ADORE.EU AND ESSAY.
BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Like it or not, Supreme will always be the litmus for streetwear. For old streetwear heads like me, there continues to be a love / hate relationship with Supreme. About a year ago, I was driving home from work and one of the neighbor kids (usually dressed head to toe in Pac Sun or even worse, Dallas Cowboys gear), cruised by me, riding a Razor scooter, with a mohawk helmet, wearing a Supreme box logo hoodie. I lost concentration and almost drove my car into the kids playing basketball in the driveway a few houses up.
“Are you fucking shitting me? Why? Why? Why? I thought.
Seeing Supreme blow up was kind of like seeing Smells Like Teen Spirit (“Teen Spirit”) blow up. Nirvana was sick from day one. For my friends and I, Bleach and the Silver E.P. thereafter, were staples in our L.P./cassette/CD rotation for a good year and a half before Teen Spirit came out. I remember buying Teen Spirit at Tower Records in Chicago, the day it was released. When I got back to the dorm, I was so excited, I immediately listened to it with a few friends in the floor lounge, and had some Larry come in and share his cute, passive aggressive comments about not understanding what the singer was mumbling, while confidently wearing an EMF shirt. A few months later, him and his boys were arm-in-arm singing Teen Spirit in the hallways like it was an Ed Sheeran track.
People like to treat Nirvana like David Geffen magically found them jamming in an Aberdeen garage before they took over the world. But the truth is, people that were into good music, already knew and obsessed over Nirvana long before the masses. The pool just became tainted when frat boys and cheerleader girls started doing keg stands and gyrating to Teen Spirit during MTV’s spring break coverage in Cancun. Then Miley Cyrus came along a few decades later, threw the doodie in the pool, and toxified it…forever.
I guess my point is that Supreme has always been king, with varying levels of fanaticism surrounding it. Like Nirvana, it just took a while for the whole world to take notice. Supreme knew what was cool before you did or confirmed what you always thought was cool. It was the ultimate reflection of counter culture–and like all good counter culture, it made its own rules. Moreover, it was big enough to parody its own success.
If you didn’t know, Supreme made and sold an actual brick in its Fall / Winter 2016 line, which sold for $30.00 and sold out. The Supreme brick is the ultimate inside joke, with Supreme’s obsessive fans as the punchline. Even with such a frivolous product, they still won. The publicity over such product was crazy, and just brought more hype to an already over-hyped machine. At the time, bricks were being resold on Ebay for as much as $1000.00 a brick. Complex even wrote an article about how much it would cost to build a 24000 square foot house made out of Supreme bricks: the answer $4,704,000.00.
Supreme was almost destined to blow up into a cultural phenomenon. Moreover, it has always been overpriced and over the top. Even a decade or so ago, it seemed frivolous to buy a $160.00 Supreme Bad Brains hoodie, when you could go to the SST site and pick one up on sale for $18.00. However (besides the quality), Supreme knew that the SST hoodie didn’t have this:
Come on, “HR: Throat.” Pure fucking genius. Supreme not only knew what was up, they knew how to capture “whattup’s” essence and sell it as their own.
As a result, people that wore Supreme back in the day, wore it for the same reasons people wear it today–to look good; to make a statement.
To walk down the street, struttin’, “That’s right muthafuckas, I look proper.” That’s always been Supreme’s mantra.
Only now, it’s a little less subtle. For me, it was always a little mix and match. Now, it’s overkill. Instead of a box logo T with Levis, a Plan B hat, and some slip on Vans; it’s Supreme x Louis Vuitton, head to toe, with $1200.00 Balenciaga kicks, Jesus pendant chains, and a $300.00 Vetements hat. Like everything, once the 1%ers get ahold of it, it’s tainted…forever.
After my encounter with my neighbor kid, I resolved to sell all of my old Supreme shit and became a bit of a Supreme hater. That was until they came out with the Akira collection last fall.
Suddenly, there I was watching you tube videos on how to beat the bots and later watching the clock at 7:45 on a Thursday morning, getting ready to repeatedly click refresh starting at 7:59.
Moreover, it worked. I beat the bots and bought my T-shirt. I was even fast enough to check out a second time and purchase a hoodie. Fuck, I love Supreme. . . that was until I tried the same thing a few weeks later, attempting to purchase a box logo hoodie, and had my computer screen freeze up for a moment before the inevitable message…”The item in your cart is no longer available…” Fuck Supreme.
This shoot then is an homage to the love side of my love / hate relationship with Supreme that I’m sure many of you share. Enjoy.
Along with this article, we have a satirical article about Supreme’s new budget line of accessories. Check it here.
If you haven’t already read it, here is some background related to our entire shoot.
Just a few hours before we arrived at the location for the shoot, we were informed by the owner of the location that an LAPD Officer had been shot and killed early that morning, and that LAPD were conducting (involuntary) voluntary searches of all vehicles coming into the area. Needless to say, the LAPD and the tension surrounding the area were the least of our problems.
Absolutely unprepared, we had some warm Cokes in our photographer’s car, but that was it for amenities. We had no water, no snacks, no real changing room, no fan, no toilet paper in the bathroom, and assistants who went MIA for three and a half hours (on a Chinese food, snack, ginger ale-most likely crack and stripper run). Ymani and Natalie dealt with it like the rock stars they are, and are the primary reason this shoot was lit.
Add to that, Todd Stockham’s genius eye, the perfect location provided by Ben and Melanie Sherazi, and some grailed T-shirts from OG Streetwear brands, Supreme, Undefeated, BAPE, X-Large / Grand Royal, Diamond Supply Co. x Collabo NY, Rocksmith, Manik Skateboards, Rebel 8, Technics x Marvel, Triumvir and (more recently) Alphonso Rawls Iconic-Everybody Skates, (with some other iconic shit scattered in the background), and we have ATA’s first photo shoot. Enjoy friends.