Supreme: The Birth Of Hype Marketing


This blog revolves around the brand that redefined streetwear and party created the ‘DROP CULTURE’. No we are not talking about RIPNDIP (although you should check them out) we are talking about the iconic red and white Supreme. We will also be unfolding the unconventional strategy that led a streetwear brand to a billion dollar valuation and a cult fan following.

The origin story of Supreme begins In the early 1990s with James Jebbia a man who was a burgeoning fashionista in New York City’s underground scene, who worked his way up the ranks at Parachute and opened the proto-streetwear stores Union NYC and Stussy — the latter with surfer and surf-wear pioneer Shawn Stussy. However when Stussy left the retail game, Jebbia was looking for his next big move and found it in a storefront on Lafayette Street.

Supreme opened in 1994 with a staff of edgy, anti-commercial kids with an attitude.They started off as a skateboard store in New York City. A skateboard store, perhaps the most successful skateboard store in the history of the world, owned by a man who didn’t skate and didn’t care much for the sport. They were confident, fearless, opinionated, and unapologetically authentic — traits that carried into the overall energy in and around the store. It was intimidating, yet intriguing — and ultimately the workings of Supreme’s cult-like appeal. A brand that doesn’t classify anything as limited, but only releases short runs and never re-releases a product. A fashion icon that swears it’s not a fashion brand. Supreme is an intriguing, tangled web of contradiction.

What has led to Supreme’s ascent and dominance in the clothing market?
Well It can be traced back to a carefully crafted strategy that has capitalized on
○ The Art of limited supply
○ Unique approach towards customers
○ Collaborations to increase brand hype
○ Leveraging Resale and social media growth to provide free marketing

The art of limited supply
Supreme has mastered the art of limited supply. Since its inception, Supreme has always maintained a small inventory, and never released a ton of pieces. It doesn’t sell in large retail stores, hence keeping its availability limited. This maintained a sense of authenticity , while driving up desirability and demand. At this point, any other brand would’ve charged more premium prices and raked in the cash. However, here’s the strategy that differentiates Supreme from the herd. Instead of charging a premium price for their highly desirable products, they kept them relatively cheap and affordable. This might seem like a bad strategy as it leaves money on the table that could have easily gone into Supreme’s pockets however, Supreme was able to convert that foregone revenue into significant hype that led to more brand equity. With more brand equity comes more demand which drives up resale prices, thereby creating more hype. It’s all interconnected and Supreme has mastered it.

Ethan Coutinho
Ethan Coutinho
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