The Supreme Brand and how it mixes up my Brain

By Marco Marsan of Marco Polo Explorers 14 April 2019

First of all, as you read this—-don’t assume I understand what I’m talking about. This article is about how I once thought of myself as a savvy marketer and how my thinking has been cut down to size by new branding upstarts that are breaking many hard and fast rules. And most of this article is being written because my 10-year old son turned me on to this phenomenon. (I checked with several of my favorite marketers about these brands and they are as confused as I am).

I’ll start with the SUPREME brand, a skateboarding shop and clothing brand established in NYC in the mid 90’s. The brand used to be about skating, hip hop and punk. Now you can buy a Supreme hoodie with Louis Vuitton branding for $8000. I’m serious… and this phenomena has caused me some serious brain damage.

The truth is – this same hoodie sells in store for around $350. But because they are in such limited quantities and high demand, Supreme brand shoes, clothes and accessories are sold extensively in the secondary market, turning resellers into overnight SUPERSTARS and entrepreneurs.

The reason I’m so intrigued is that the SUPREME brand either created this phenomena by design, or through an amazing coincidence.

Quick fact: The lead designers from Supreme and Louis Vuitton are former classmates at FIT or some other design school. (I made up the FIT thing, but I heard something close to this from a reliable source. Then I asked my editor… she said I’m close enough).

And then there’s BAPE, or Bathing APE out of Japan, who is selling out of limited edition skate and sportswear. Founded in 1993, they have the same intriguing branding (a cross of Planet of the Apes and Che Guevara for a logo) and design that is over the top and (again for me) confusing and intriguing all at the same time.

Nike is jumping on this bandwagon as well. They opened a store in collaboration with Kith, selling clothing that lights up using alternative materials, including selling ice cream in the store (of course). I believe in patterns, it usually tells us what to expect but is this a new way to market, the anti pattern, going straight instead of left or right or backwards.

I’m losing my mind and loving every second of it.

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