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How Supreme went from an NYC skate shop to a billion dollar company

Just last week, after a $500 million deal with the Carlyle Group for 50% stake of the company, Supreme became the first streetwear brand to be valued at $1 billion.

This news doesn’t come as too big of a surprise as the company has been pushing the boundaries about what could be done creatively and catering to one of the hottest consumer markets in the world.

But just like any other business, Supreme came from humble beginnings and founder James Jebbia has remained humble and unfazed by all of the massive success around him.

In fact, in the age where all kids seem to care about is their clout, one of the things that matters least to Jebbia is actually his legacy. In an interview with VICE i-D his nonchalant approach is probably what makes Supreme so great saying,

“We’re not thinking about image and legacy, we just want to make great stuff, season in, season out, no more, no less.”

Investing $12,000 into a skate shop in downtown Manhattan in 1994, Jebbia laid down the building blocks to later turn a clothing line into a brand, a brand into a lifestyle, and now the lifestyle has turned into something bigger than he could’ve ever imagined.

At its core, Supreme has not changed a single bit since they first opened its doors some 23 years ago. With a simple aesthetic, it was first the support of the skate community that gave the brand what it needed to start. Jebbia told VICE i-D,

“We’re not trying to be everything for everybody. We’re not trying to please the masses. We just want to grow at a reasonable pace. Supreme hasn’t changed for 20 years, and that feels very simple to me.”

But with the help of major influencers, guerilla marketing tactics, and eventually collabs with every brand you can imagine, Supreme has blasted into the stratosphere of major clothing brands.

Most importantly, the brand thrived on none other than the lifeblood of its culture: the hypebeasts. Resellers of all ages began to not only crowd their storefronts and cause pandemonium, but once they purchased their items, they’d bring them back out into the market and mark up the prices so insanely high that not even Jebbia could believe it.

In a 2002 interview, the low key Jebbia spoke on the resale market, which is something he admitted he doesn’t fuck with at all saying,

“I don’t like it very much simply because we try our best to make our clothing affordable for young people, after all Supreme is a skate brand & when I do see our things on ebay the prices are normally at least double what they should be. Basically I don¹t like people getting jacked for a T-shirt. I much prefer if someone buys something from us that they plan on wearing it & not selling.”

At this point, Supreme has created its own economy and with 11 locations worldwide from LA to Brooklyn and London to Tokyo, there’s pop up shops in even more places making sure the brand goes where it needs to be.

But what they did better than everybody else was stay true to themselves. Even with all of the countless collabs and celebs pushing their shit, Supreme never strayed away from their origins and did it for all the right reasons. Now they’re worth a billion dollars.

Supreme is a perfect example that when you put culture first, great things can happen.


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