Merriam-Webster defines “supreme” as “highest in rank or authority.” Friday morning, New York based streetwear fashion brand Supreme announced that it had sold a minority stake in the company to The Carlyle Group, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. In an exclusive statement to The Business of Fashion, Supreme founder James Jebbia said: “We’re a growing brand, and to sustain that growth we’ve chosen to work with Carlyle, who has the operational expertise needed to keep us on the steady path we’ve been on since 1994. Working with Carlyle allows us to concentrate on doing what we do best and remain in control of our brand, as we always have.” The prior afternoon — after Supreme’s weekly Thursday online drop — Randal Quarles, a former Carlyle Group executive and Donald Trump nominee for Federal Reserve Governor was confirmed by the United States Senate.
Brand association with politics may result in a public relations nightmare; ask New Balance or Under Armour, both companies received a world of backlash after information was made public that their respective founders had donated a significant amount of money to the Trump campaign.
Supreme is now sliding down a slippery slope of white supremacist by association.
Last Sunday alt-white poster tyke Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Brietbart editor and current neo-Nazi appeared at UC Berkeley wearing a Supreme box logo American flag hoodie to his cancelled Free Speech Week. This fashion statement is intentional to Milo — you are what you wear — a fashion statement is just that: a statement expressing ones personal views via fashion. To Milo, he is wearing an American flag emblazoned with the word Supreme, which supports his #maga fueled white supremacist world wide view detailed in writer Joseph Bernstein’s recent BuzzFeed report.
Supreme did nothing to distance themselves from Milo or his white supremacist followers.
Since their 1994 skateboard inspired inception, Supreme has also partially built an empire associating with hip-hop culture by using images of name-your-favorite-hip-hop-icon wearing their staple white tee with a centered red box logo — which they admittedly borrowed from Barbara Kruger — on an item and selling to their cult online and at their 11 retail locations worldwide. Throughout their reign, Supreme has used the images of Barack Obama, Malcolm X, Black Panther Party, Muhammad Ali, Gucci Mane, Dipset and various icons of avant garde hip-hop culture to align the Supreme brand with the avant garde of hip-hop culture and now Milo seems to be adopting the popular brand and associating it with white supremacy. It would be very easy over time for Supreme to become the choice brand of white supremacist culture. And as long as Supreme remains silent wearing Supreme may have you looking like you’re complicit with white supremacy.
Say something, Supreme.
Christopher Michael is a random white boy who be everywhere. Follow him on Twitter: @KINGCHRXS.