For years, Supreme‘s creative direction was always left up to James Jebbia. However, that all changed this past February when it was announced that Tremaine Emory would now be the one to take his place. Since 2020, this is one of the biggest moves that the brand has made since being acquired by VF. So the question that we’re all wondering: why?
For those who don’t know the story behind Supreme, here’s a little rundown. In 1994, James Jebbia was already a designer and working for the brand Stüssy. In hopes to create his own edgy skate brand, Jebbia created Supreme in the heart of Soho. Like anyone who creates a start-up brand; the process was not easy. Although Jebbia had experience in selling clothes, he did not know much about the creative process behind making products. Therefore, he appointed Brendon Babenzien (founder of Noah), Geoff Heath, and Augie Galan to join the Supreme team. With more people on board, the flow of everything seemed to move a lot easier. On the other hand, everyone had little to no experience, so they were just figuring out things as they worked.
Supreme quickly gained popularity among the skate and streetwear crowd. By 1998, Supreme had three stores in Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka, and was even featured on MTV Japan. Due to all this popularity, it pushed the boundaries of creativity; inspiring many. The Supreme that all of us have learned to love over the years was always pulling its designs from what is the most relevant in pop culture. Even so, they still kept their New York edginess.
Where’s the Relevance?
Undoubtedly, Supreme was a major brand. But what most people don’t know is even though James Jebbia was the creative director, he was not the person making the designs. It was his team. James Jebbia is a businessman, so as time went on and Supreme’s popularity began to grow, he hired more designers. Like in most cases, the original members wanted to venture out and do their own things, so that was that.
Tremaine Emory’s fashion origin story is a bit different. Emory was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Queens, New York. Like many, Emory’s creativity stemmed from more than just his surroundings but his hobbies as well. He always had a passion for nightlife and music and that reflects well in his pieces. The main thing that makes Emory a commodity is his hustle. Before taking his spot as Supreme’s creative director, Emory was and still is known as the designer and founder behind the brand Denim Tears.
However, Denim Tears is not Emory’s only accolade. Before that, he worked under Marc Jacobs for nine years, he was an art and brand director at Stüssy, and is a part of the fashion-music nightlife collective, No Vacancy Inn. He also has done some creative work for Nike, New Balance, and Off-White. Apart from these brands, he has worked alongside the likes of Virgil Abloh, Frank Ocean, A$AP Nast, and many more. With all this being said, you can see why would Supreme would want him on their team.
Good Move Supreme
Let’s just take a minute to reflect. Over the past two years or so, we have seen Supreme make some major changes brand-wise. Although its origins place Supreme as a skating streetwear brand, it has come up in the same conversations as Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, and Missoni. Not only has Supreme made its shift to fashion houses, but it is no longer the Carlyle group. Even though Supreme has always had a creative team, there was no one ever in charge except for Jebbia. What makes Emory’s transition so interesting, however, is that this move might have always been in the works. For 10 years, Angelo Baque was Supreme’s brand director and then he stepped down in 2017. Since stepping down he created Awake NY, another Streetwear brand, but one that tells a story.
In September 2021, Asics had announced that Baque was releasing a sneaker collaborative collection with them.
Those who were a part of the collab were Spanto (BornXRaised founder), Jess Gonsalves (Procell co-founder), photographer, Renell Medrano, and guess who? TREMAINE EMORY. Whether or not Jebbia shared similar interests with Baque or just saw how well Emory had an impact; it sure happens to be a lucky coincidence.
Whether or not the plan was premeditated; it’s going to be nice to see Emory’s style implemented at Supreme. He has a strong background of including historical and African American cultural references in his clothing, and that is something that Supreme has not seen yet. It’s safe to say that many are anticipating the future of Supreme with Tremaine Emory at the forefront.