“What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers.
I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce.
I’m waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement.”
This is what a woman who looks a lot like my mother flatly typed about a company who can afford to have the decidedly cool Kate Moss to pose for Terry Richardson in their 2012 street campaign
Supreme is a NY based, mensware-only, skate brand that offers limited edition gear for the sartorially inclined punk. Or as Urban Dictionary user Brett Chen describes it, “1. a clothing brand that has figured out a way to make a $3 t-shirt into a $100 t-shirt. Congratulations. Granted, most successful clothing brands have managed to achieve that pricing difference.
Supreme has officially collaborated with amazing artists like KAWS, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons to create one-of-a-kind skate decks and clothing. However, the brand’s most recognizable design is directly inspired from Barbara Kruger’s anti-consumerism art.
Kruger, aka my mom’s doppleganger, was a magazine designer before making her name as an iconic feminist artist. She creates collage-style art that directly asks the viewer to think about their relationship with femininity and consumerism.
Her pieces often look like brash print ads proclaiming the beginning of a revolution. It’s not a big surprise that Supreme referenced her art for their logo in an attempt to match their subversive, anti-main stream skate image. Her art is constantly inspiring other artists and parodies. In 2004, Leah McSweeney designed a t-shirt featuring the phrase “Supreme Bitch” in Kruger’s trademark white on red helvetica rectangle. It not only responds to Supreme’s blantant rip-off but uses their style to re-incorporate modern feminist thought.
What is a surprise is that Supreme actually tried to sue McSweeney in May 2013 for copyright infringement. This prompted our matriarch of mass-produced feminist theory to respond by calling them “totally uncool jokers”. Which they totally are.
Supreme lives off Kruger’s anti-establishment artwork and is using everything in the power of the establishment to keep their empire from falling. This event is the epitome of the oxymoronic ideal of mainstream, underground, high-end, punk, fashion. Right now, Supreme looks no better than a 9th grader quoting Henry David Thoreau on instagram from the family SUV.
Also, Kruger isn’t averse to having her art plastered on mass produced objects. She recently collaborated with LACMA to create a transit bus with her phrases on it along with a ray ban sunglass line featuring the phrase “Your gaze hits the side of my face “. In the right light, the commercialization of her work has the potential to magnify her message rather than dilute it.
Thanks to the endorsement of hipster teen idols like Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean, Supreme’s reign isn’t going to fall anytime soon. But neither is Barbara’s. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that a brand who worked with Kate Moss after her “Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels” proclaimation, is gearing up for a feminist revolution.
The most I can say is check out Leah McSweeney’s site and support the Supreme Bitch apparel line. You can still rock that swag as the kids say and not support a shitty, pseudo-punk retail store. Check it!