Why Supreme is So Expensive – It’s early on a cold, drizzly Thursday morning. Lining two entire city blocks is a horde of people- mostly young teenagers, and most of them have spent the night in sleeping bags or camper chairs. Every single one is in line waiting for the clock to strike nine AM, yearning to be the first through the doors they’ve been waiting outside of for almost twenty-four hours.
Is it a hot new movie release- A Star Wars that isn’t terrible for instance? A hot new video game? A life-saving miracle drug? No, it’s a clothing store, selling cotton t-shirts for almost a hundred dollars a pop. It is Supreme. Every fashion season hundreds of people line up outside of Supreme’s ten global stores in a bid to be the first through the doors.
Some individuals even fly in from far-flung countries to the ten stores the brand owns spread out across Europe, America, and Japan. T-Shirts start at around $50, while jackets can run up to well over $1,000. With such outrageous prices, why supreme is so expensive? why then is Supreme so popular, and so expensive?
In the late 2000s, Kanye West wasn’t yet as insane as a giraffe with PTSD on an LSD drip. Kanye was still telling us that Jesus Walks, instead of referring to himself as a God or’Yeezus’. It was a far more simple, less insane time for Kanye and America on the whole. With his rising popularity though, Kanye soon opened an online store where he could sell his own clever fashion designs.
Amongst these iconic fashion pieces were such revolutionary ideas as a plain white t-shirt with no logo, no artwork, no stencil- nothing. Just plain white cotton stitched together by Vietnamese children whose wages are sadness instead of actual money. This revolutionary t-shirt with no logo or artwork sold out within minutes of being posted online on Kanye’s official store.
A fact that’s even more incredible when you consider that it sold for a whopping $99 per t-shirt- despite the fact that it was in no way any different than a plain white t-shirt you can buy at Target in packs of six. why supreme is so expensive?
Well, that’s not quite true- there was one difference, a single reason why the t-shirt cost nearly a hundred bucks- the tag on the inside of the shirt read: Kanye. Finally, every loyal fan would have a way of letting the world know how much they loved Kanye, and all the world would have to do is look inside their shirt for the half-inch tag that spelled his name on their body.
That tag, minuscule and disturbingly intimate as it would be to show people, however, is why people were willing to pay $100 for a crappy t-shirt. It didn’t matter what Kanye probably bought these t-shirts by the dozens from Walmart for $6 a pack and then resold them on his website, what mattered is that the shirts were officially part of the ‘Kanye brand’.
And before Kanye started telling us about his life in alternate universes while meeting with President Trump- and yes, that really happened, google it- wearing anything Kanye was about as cool as you could get. Kanye was a supreme lyricist, putting out banger after banger, and being affiliated with Kanye by proxy via wearing his clothing brand kind of made you part of Kanye’s talent and success in a way.
At least that’s the thinking, and one of the reasons why supreme is so expensive and the Supreme brand today is popular as it is. Psychologists have very carefully studied the way we become obsessed with brands, and why it becomes so important for us to be identified with a popular brand.
Some people are simply collectors, completists who must have every piece of apparel from the chosen brand so they can store it up and admire it- no different than antique collectors or even stamp collectors. Most others, however, are directly purchasing Supreme and brands like it as a lifestyle choice. That is why the supreme is so expensive.
For them, buying Supreme is more than just buying an article of clothing- they are buying a piece of wearable culture, a way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the herd and project an image of themselves that they want others to see. In our ancient past, we might have adorned ourselves with feathers and animal bones in order to stand out from the rest of the tribe.
These simple decorations were a way to make ourselves unique within the social group that we depended on for our very lives. Paradoxically, we as animals desperately need to fit in, but we also yearn to be individuals and nothing mortifies most of us more than being seen as simply another one of the pack.
Well, thanks to modern brands such as Louis Vuitton, Supreme, Ferrari, and Kane West with his $100 plain cotton t-shirts, you don’t have to be one of the pack. You can be exclusive, and so what if your exclusivity costs you an entire paycheck? How else will anyone know how special and unique you are? With a personality? Ha! Get real.
Brands like Supreme know that their name stands for exclusivity, and the only way to ensure that exclusivity is to make sure that their brand never becomes too popular. If you’ve read our previous article on why Ferraris are so expensive, then you already know that Ferrari purposefully limits the number of vehicles it produces every year.
Instead of mass-producing their cars and thus bottoming out the price, Ferrari makes very few of each model per year- perhaps as little as only a few hundred- and this keeps the price, and the exclusivity, sky-high. Without exclusivity, Ferrari would never be able to charge them exorbitant amounts of money it does for its vehicles.
The same applies to Supreme and other clothing brands. Being a popular clothing brand is a delicate balance between generating buzz and making the product available, and ensuring that your product is not nearly available enough to lose that exclusivity that your customers are willing to shell out hundreds, or maybe even thousands for.
Nobody buys Supreme so they can show up at a party and see a bunch of other people wearing supreme brand clothes- they buy it because nobody else at that party can afford to spend a month’s paycheck on some cotton rags with a brand name on them. If Supreme wearers started showing up to parties full of other Supreme wearers, then the exclusivity would plummet and so would sales, with the crowd moving on to the next ‘niche-but-cool thing to throw on their bodies.
But exclusivity is only part of the story. Another major appeal to Supreme and other brands like it is the lifestyle that a customer is buying into- or at least the illusion of that lifestyle. Supreme isn’t just a brand, it’s an image, an illusion of what the wearer of a Supremehoodie’s life is like. Hip, trendy, edgy, no-holds-barred, and ultra-cool. That’s why supreme is so expensive.
Except, you know, most people’s lifestyles aren’t anything like that, because most people have adult responsibilities like school and jobs. By wearing a brand name like Supreme though, the wearer of these clothing items can project to the world an image of what he or she wants to be said the world to believe they are like.
If you wear Louis Vuitton for instance then you’re classy, spend your weekends sipping mimosas with your best gal pals as you recall your daring romantic misadventures on the Mediterranean coast during your latest holiday. At least that’s what you want the world to think you do, and why you’re paying over $1,000for a handbag- while in reality your best friend is a depressed overweight cat and a bottle of Ambien, and you spend your weekends RedBox’ing movies because your new Louis Vuitton bag means you can’t afford Netflix.
Supreme is no different. The brand began as a small shop in New York that catered to skaters, back when actually skating and not just pretending to by wearing skate brands was a thing. Now if you wear a Supreme t-shirt you’re boldly declaring to the world that you’re part of the rebel underground, you’re a modern Z-Boy that’s too badass to live inside the rules-yet is sensitive enough to be socially conscious to a diverse array of modern issues ranging from vegetarianism to racial injustice.
The reality about yourself maybe. . . not as accurate, but who’s going to call you phony baloney when you’re wearing authentic Supreme wear? In essence, more than exclusivity that is why supreme is so expensive and goes for every other name brand out there.
You’re not buying pieces of cloth sewn together by sad orphan third-world children who’s only lunch is a single stale cracker and a bowl full of sadness, you’re buying into an illusionary lifestyle that you desperately want to be identified with. Shelling out a bunch of money lets you pretend you share in that lifestyle, even if your actual reality is nowhere even close.
Money buys the story about yourself you want the world to read, and this is perhaps no clearer than when Supreme teamed up with old-school rap powerhouse Public Enemy to release a limited edition run of Public Enemy clothing items. If you don’t know any member of Public Enemy except Flavor Flav, what are you really buying and proudly displaying on your chest?
Once more, it’s that perception of what your own life is really like. Of course, you know Chuck D and Flavor Flav were the original members, and that the group got its name from Chuck D’s original mixtape labeled Public Enemy #1- why else would you have paid hundreds of dollars in branded clothing?
The Public Enemy line was a limited run, just like Supreme’s other items. The brand purposefully limits the amount of clothing it produces, and while it officially states that it does so to avoid having a warehouse full of dead inventory, the truth is that the brand knows that as long as it remains exclusive and there is limited availability, it can charge the incredible prices that it does.
When that exclusivity begins to drop though, so will the prices, and that is a challenge that Supreme is already facing. Many long-time fans of Supreme already worry that the brand is becoming too popular, and soon they may find themselves turning away from a brand that used to be exclusive to them in search of the next way to stand out from the crowd.
Supreme could respond in one of two ways though: they could initiate more limited-edition lines such as the Public Enemy collaboration and drastically reduce the amount of available merchandise for those lines, or they could jack up prices so that even fewer people are able to afford their clothing.
Either way, Supreme will likely soon see the inevitable fall from grace that most brands enjoy for a while before fizzling out- I mean, does anybody in the audience remember Ed Hardy and Tapout shirts? In the end, people will simply find something else to spend their money on.
We’ve been pretty hard on fashion aficionados who spend hundreds or thousands on a single piece of clothing in this episode, but the truth is we all have the one area we’re willing to spend silly amounts of money on. Some people spend hundreds or thousands of Magic the Gathering and Pokemon card collections, while others collect vintage automobiles or fine china.
At the end of the day, our opinion doesn’t really matter, if what you buy makes you feel good and happy inside, then job well done. After all, what price can you really put on happiness- and what business is it of anyone else just how much you’re willing to spend on it? What expensive things are you into collecting or wearing? Will you vote for Kanye West when he inevitably declares himself Thanos and runs for President of the world? and what your opinion why supreme is so expensive? Let us know in the comments.