Off Brand

Why Supreme Is Happy to See Customers Burning Their Merch

It may look like a backlash against the super-exclusive streetwear brand, but it’s pretty much the opposite

Rob Walker
Published in
4 min readFeb 26, 2020


Illustration: Fran Caballero

SSupreme, the attitude-heavy, way-cooler-than-you-are skateboard and streetwear company, is a singular brand. For more than 25 years, it has balanced the snooty exclusivity of high fashion with an arty underground vibe that somehow converts to irrational consumer devotion. No other business has more thoroughly captivated the “hypebeasts” (basically: voracious streetwear consumers) who evidently derive social capital from standing in line for limited-edition goods doled out by legendarily surly retail workers. Though Supreme distributes through only about a dozen rather small stores, major brands clamor to collaborate on crossover projects, and at last check, it was reportedly worth $1 billion.

So when a recent report revealed that people are burning, slicing up, defacing, and otherwise ruining and destroying Supreme gear worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the secondary market, and documenting this destruction online, you might logically conclude that there’s a backlash afoot. Maybe all those brand collaborations — a Supreme Oreo cookie was recently announced — are becoming a turn-off. Some…