June 2, 2020

Brands We Love: Supreme

Alice Liang - Account Executive

Established in 1994 and originated as a skateboard brand, Supreme is now the most influential player in the current streetwear market. Known for their signature box-logo, individuals around the world line up for hours to score just a single item from one of the few physical Supreme store locations.

But what is behind Supreme’s success and how do they make their clients go in a frenzy every time there is a new drop? The answer lies within the talented designers and marketers who spend great effort in crafting unique products, understanding their target audience’s wants and keeping them engaged with look books and social media.

1. Building a ‘scarcity’ mindset

Other than from their physical stores or their online website, you cannot purchase Supreme merchandise at retail price anywhere else. And to add onto the limited channels of purchase, there are only a certain quantity of each item and once the item sells out, it’s game over. To make it even more interesting, Supreme only allows each customer to purchase one item. So even if you wanted to buy a matching hoodie for your best friend, you are going to have to drag that friend with you and wait in line because you can only buy one. This scarcity mindset not only preserves the quality and hype around the brand, but more importantly creates a strong sense that every Supreme product is considered “limited edition.”

2. Creating a sense of urgency 

Supreme usually drops Thursdays at 11AM EST, but sells out in seconds. Why? Because the reseller market is just as big and the margins are mind-blowing. People have gone as far as to use bots to help them purchase Supreme items online, which is unfair to non-tech savvy individuals. But that is the nature with “hypebeast” brands and that world is just a game of whoever can outsmart the system the fastest. So you can count your lucky stars and hope you can score something at retail price, but you’re most likely going to “cop” Supreme gear at StockX for three times the original value.

3. Connecting with target audiences through Influencers

What do famous artists like Drake, Justin Beiber, Bad Bunny and BTS all have in common? Besides charting on Spotify’s top playlist or having a million-plus followers on Instagram, they all wear Supreme. And the crazy thing is, Supreme does not pay for these celebrities to wear and promote the brand. Meaning, even big-shot names like them buy into the hype and Supreme sits back and watches their ROI skyrocket! Who could ask for a better marketing strategy?

Supreme does have collaborations frequently with other brands to mix it up. Because box-logos only come once in a blue moon, so Supreme has teamed up with other famous brands to keep their customers engaged, but also legitimize the higher price point for streetwear. The most famous collaborations include Louis Vuitton, Comme des Garçons, Air Jordan and Northface and were sold out in seconds. You can try to purchase it through a reseller, but be prepared to pay $10,000 or more for a hoodie!

4. Willingness to adapt 

Supreme has been embraced by youth culture since 1994. That’s 26 years…making Supreme older than some of the people they market to. But the brand has consistently stayed in the center of influence by adapting to the current trend of “hypebeast”. But at the same token, with its tenure, Supreme also creates trends and influences movements in the streetwear industry to keep their place as a fashion connoisseur. They are consistently changing up their style and collaborations which keeps the brand fresh and up-to-date. Clothing designers come and go as fashion styles change, but Supreme has managed to stay in the game and on top of the game thus far.

Overall, despite most clothing brands struggling with the current epidemic, Supreme’s KPIs are not wavering. They have loyal customers, a huge scope of influence and have a great team that are always cultivating new ideas regardless of any economic hurdles. Maybe if you’re lucky, you can purchase a new Supreme outfit for your first day out after quarantine! Good luck!