Since its conception Supreme has been a brand that speaks volumes not only to the people who wear it, but those that don’t.  It’s clear that the brand has positioned itself as polar opposite to your 13-year-old brothers mainstream Hollister T-shirt.  They have collaborated with artists such as Terry Richardson and Juicy J, as well as brands like Nike, Vans, and Timberland.  Varying notable celebrities can be seen wearing Supreme such as Odd Future, A$AP Rocky, Lady Gaga, Lou Reed, Kanye West, Jason Dill, and Kate Moss.  Through all of their collaborations it has become quite clear that the brand caters to skateboarders, hip-hop, and punk cultures.

Supreme has successfully created what the advertising world calls an “imagined community” through its products, more importantly through its advertising and marketing that has turned this skateboard/urban-wear into a brand.   A huge piece of the personality Supreme possesses developed out of its iconic advertising.  Each year since 2006 Supreme has chosen a quirky, edgy, and even iconic celebrity that propels the brand to another facet of cool.  These campaigns are displayed on posters plastered all over cities, which house their flagship stores (New York, LA, Tokyo, and London to name a few).

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Supreme x Raekwon x Ghostface x Elmo (2006).

     These famed Supreme posters are a prime example of the transformational function of advertising, through which advertisers try to shift consumers’ spending habits, social success, lifestyle, and attitude towards a certain brand (Leiss 75).  The posters give someone the idea that instead of wearing the plain skateboarding brand they could spend more money in order to profess their true individuality.  Skateboarders, rappers, and punkers are often seen as counter-culture, which is why this method of guerilla advertising speaks so clearly to their target market.

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Supreme x Terry Richardson x Kermit (2008).

     Supreme has taken their skateboard clothing brand to another level of personality, when they began advertising with these posters.  With the consistently edgy, controversial, celebrity posters Supreme continues to position itself between fame and counter culture lifestyles.  Through these campaigns they play with the idea of being completely controversial, yet widely respected, successful, and well known.  Thus the brand has been insanely successful at consistently catering to this imagined community.

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Supreme x Kate Moss (2012).

It’s important to acknowledge that the formation of these imagine communities would never be possible if society had not made the dramatic shift to a consumer society in the twentieth century, through which people in society are grouped and differentiated by what they consume.  The consumer in our society is identified by voluntary and cultural similarities between themselves and others who share a set of taste and complementary values – a lifestyle (Leiss 90).  Who doesn’t occasionally wear a T-shirt?  Who doesn’t wear a hat?   From the plainest dressing middle class American to Lady Gaga, you can garuantee that a T-shirt or hat serves function in every American’s closet.  The question isn’t whether people will wear a T-shirt or hat; it’s which T-shirt or hat they will choose to wear.  Supreme wants to make sure if you’re a skateboard, hip hop, or punk enthusiasts they will be your first choice.

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Supreme x Lady Gaga (2011)

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Supreme x Lou Reed (2009).

PS If anyone wants to take a look at all the Supreme posters since 2006, here is an article about it I found onilne.

http://www.highsnobiety.com/2012/02/15/a-history-of-supreme-new-york-poster-ad-campaigns/

– Imani Ribadeneyra

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