3 Reasons Tremaine Emory Is Perfect For Supreme

By Lynn Mongameli

When VF Corp acquired Supreme in 2020 for $2.1 Billion, a lot of us were left scratching our heads, wondering where the brand that at one point had become synonymous with streetwear would go next. Founded by James Jebbia in 1994, Supreme has grown to be a streetwear juggernaut – and one of the most desirable brands of the fashion elite. Conjuring the interest of mass-taste celebrities, SoHo kids and pouty models who were all but happy to post pouty snaps in their Supreme hoodie, the scarcity of the products added to the brand’s coolness other brands could only dream of. As a result, it wouldn’t be long before big money would come calling.  

Rising to the upper echelons of the elitist fashion world, Supreme’s history-making collaboration with Kim Jones’ Louis Vuitton in 2017 shifted fashion’s sensibilities and set the streetwear brand on a new trajectory – one where Supreme could sit comfortably next to the likes of Dior or Chanel. But as with all things – what goes up must come down. It wouldn’t be long before the fever pitch hype of the brand once referred to as the ‘Chanel of streetwear’ would start to dwindle, and as other streetwear brands began collaborating with established houses, Supreme’s cool factor seemed to fade. The limiting of offerings backfired, and wearing Supreme became less about it being a calling card for those in the know and more about whether you have money to drop on a Supreme branded brick.

Once a cultural phenomenon, nowadays it’s hard to find someone sporting a Supreme anything. The culture seemingly moved on, and Supreme was left behind, and it looked like it would stay that way. Another heritage brand lost to its own demise. However, the recent announcement of Tremaine Emory of Denim Tears as the new Creative Director would dispel any doubts about the brand’s intentions for the future. 

Set to work alongside James Jebbia, Emory’s appointment marks the most significant personnel move since its acquisition deal in 2020. It could not come at a better time for a brand that was once the arbiter of what is cool in streetwear. With a track record of infusing his authentic, politically charged cultural edge to major brands, Emory is the perfect person for the task of bringing Supreme’s cool back, and here’s why.

 1. Authenticity

Since exploding into mainstream popularity, Supreme’s ethos has become unclear. At heart, Supreme is a skate brand made by cool kids for cool kids. As it gained mainstream success, the cultural values that had borne its street-cred started to erode, replaced with something that looked vastly different – something more akin to boast-posting all your Supreme purchases, because, why not?  

Tremaine Emory taking the reins as Creative Director is due to bring Supreme’s authenticity back. A key player in fashion, especially in streetwear, the Denim Tears founder is a cerebral designer who intentionally delayed the release of his Marcus Garvey inspired Converse collaboration after demanding that Converse’s parent company Nike take a stance against systemic racism. Able to infuse his beliefs into his work, Emory seems more concerned about what he says in his designs and what his designs say about him rather than ROI. For where Supreme is in the cultural zeitgeist right now – Tremaine’s authenticity will go a long way to returning the much needed cool factor. Hopefully, without compromising on those crucial revenues.

2. Friends & Family 

Emory has friends in high places. He cut his teeth under Marc Jacobs before going on to be one half of the cultural collective that is No Vacancy Inn. The New York, Queen’s raised designer boasts names like Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and A$AP Rocky, amongst his close friends – providing him with an ever-ready list of culture-shifting celebs to wear his designs. If we’re being honest, he’s going to need them. As much as we hate to admit it, putting clothes on celebrities does wonders for a brand (take a look at the latest Hugo campaign). While he’s in one of the most powerful seats in the fashion industry, Emory’s Rolodex of celebrity friends will certainly be an aid to bringing Supreme back to its former glory. It seems the plan is working as recently A$AP Nast, a former Supreme advocate, took to Instagram in the latest Supreme x Burberry collaboration. 

3. Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration

Whether we like it or not, collaboration amongst fashion brands is not going anywhere anytime soon, and brands have been knocking down the door to partner with Tremaine Emory. A frequent collaborator, he has worked with Off-White, New Balance, Converse, Ugg, Levi’s and plenty more, and has already added a Supreme x Burberry collaboration to his belt. Supreme is also no stranger to collaborations. The brand often partners with Timberland, Nike and North Face – however, some of these collaborations come off a tad predictable and fall into the tacky trap of logomania, with a heavy reliance on logo based products.  

Under Emory’s direction, hopefully, Supreme will return with something new and thoughtful – as we have seen from Emory’s work with Stüssy or Denim Tears. Perfectly poised to lead Supreme in the right direction, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Emory partner with a diverse group of collaborators, including some unknown designers, to reinvigorate the now pared-back label.

Although the question of whether Supreme will be able to regain its cool factor while scaling up, Emory’s hire sends a clear and direct message about where the brand believes it can go in the coming years. Emory has a track record of making brands cool again (New Balance, for example). As a cemented figure in the luxury streetwear culture that has taken over the corridors of elitist fashion houses, he is the perfect person to take the helm as Creative Director of Supreme.

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