This past Monday VF Corporation acquired Supreme for $2.1 billion and the reactions have been mixed.
The comments under Complex Style’s IG post about the news range from, “It’s gonna be a win for the industry, but an L for resellers,” to “Yea, they over with for sure.” Longtime Supreme collector and content creator Eric Whiteback created an IG post with a Supreme tombstone and a long caption outlining all the ways in which he thinks Supreme’s declined over the years — despite his page being fully dedicated to the brand. “This sale signifies the yawn-inducing, corporate boredom of a brand that was originally destined to be something different,” writes Whiteback.
This type of “Supreme is Dead” chatter comes up each time the brand makes a big move, whether that was collaborating with Louis Vuitton or receiving investment from the Carlyle Group back in 2017, but this deal is different. Another company now owns 100 percent of Supreme. And although James Jebbia will remain on staff and VF Corp. says they will let him do his thing, one can’t help but question how Supreme will fare when it's no longer completely under Jebbia’s tight control. VF Corp. says they want to increase sales by 8 to 10 percent and essentially get back the $2.1 billion it paid for Supreme — over the past year Supreme made upwards of $500 million in sales.
But outside of Supreme, the deal could signal what’s considered an American luxury brand in 2020 and beyond. Streetwear has proven to be a high margin business with sticky consumers and cultural relevance. While Supreme is an anomaly and doesn’t have many peers, it does challenge the idea that streetwear is dead. Yes, customers can grow out of brand, but if relevance is maintained with smart distribution and accessible pricing, it will gain a new set of young customers each year. This could signal the end of luxury and streetwear collaborations primarily because that market is tapped and streetwear could be viewed as a type of luxury in its own right.
“I do think that what it means is that the money in fashion is changing its focus. Yes, we have LVMH acquiring Tiffany and this kind of consolidation at the luxury level that will continue. But I think that in addition to the large luxury conglomerates, there's a new sheriff in town and that is this really dramatic, passionate devotion to brands that are not priced out of reach,” says Scafidi. “We've asked for years, why isn't there an American LVMH? You know what, maybe there is. But it's not about high-end European artisanal quality. It's about a certain American spirit that is always a little bit of an outsider spirit. So it's the new world versus the old.”