Introducing Supreme, Palace and Off-White: the streetwear brands the fashion industry is entirely obsessed with.
As a rule, fashion brands fall into one of three camps. There are the labels that are definitely a fad. The one-hit wonders of the fashion world, these create a stupendous buzz for a hot minute, then shrink into the background and disappear.
Then there are the heavy hitters, the brands that will always have a presence. These are generally the French and Italian houses that even the most ‘unfashion’ person recognises. Even my 90-year-old granddad is familiar with the Louis Vuitton logo.
And finally, there are the newer brands that are gradually taking over the world. The ones industry insiders can’t stop talking about and fussing over. The labels you didn’t even know existed – until suddenly, you see them everywhere you look.
Right now, those brands are Supreme, Palace and Off-White: three hyper-luxe skate and streetwear brands that have embedded themselves in fashion culture. Starting from the street, these brands have collaborated with some of the world’s most established labels, from Louis Vuitton to Nike. A new Palace x Ralph Lauren collection drops on 9 November, and all three labels are also nominees for the Urban Luxe award at the 2018 British Fashion Awards.
You may already be acquainted with the skate and streetwear brands. You may have been an avid follower for years. Or you might never have heard of them. Whatever your thoughts on these brands, rest assured: these are the ones to take notice of.
It all started with Supreme, the New-York based brand founded by skaters for skaters back in 1994. The label bubbled away in New York with hipsters and in-the-know folk snapping up their simple designs, until a plain T-shirt, cap or hoodie with the ‘Supreme’ logo became the ultimate marker for cool (whether you were a skater or not). The now-iconic red background and white ‘Supreme’ lettering has evolved from the underground skate scene into one of the world’s most in-demand logos.
Supreme first teamed up with Nike in 2014 (this happens on the reg’ now), and the hype around the collection was so wild that the NYPD had to shut down the launch in Manhattan due to concerns about public safety. You know how people used to queue around the block for new Apple products? Apple hasn’t got a patch on Supreme.
After years of claiming they were a skate brand, not a fashion brand, Supreme teamed up with Louis Vuitton in 2017 for their autumn/winter show. The collection sold out in seconds – literally. It blew up bigger than anyone thought it would, and the resale on the items are some of the highest percentages the fashion world has ever seen. Some of the bags are now retailing on eBay for over £25,000.
Accessible price points and limited drops are the key to Supreme’s success. Fresh products launch on the brand’s site every Thursday, giving fans a weekly reason to shop. The pieces aren’t groundbreaking: they’re usually just new colourways of the brand’s staples. Despite this, traffic to supremenewyork.com can increase by as much as 16,800% on Thursdays, known to the in-crowd as ‘drop day’.
Today, Supreme is considered a legitimate fashion brand – so much so that it has been nominated as ‘Urban Luxe brand of the year’ at the 2018 British Fashion Council awards, alongside Palace and Off-White.
Palace, the London counterpart to New York’s Supreme, is another skate brand turned fashion phenomenon. Launched in 2009, the Soho store can usually be identified by a snaking queue of cool kids waiting to get their hands on the latest drops, and the triangle-shaped Palace logo – often found on long-sleeved T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts – has become synonymous with London cool.
Similarly to Supreme’s Louis Vuitton moment, Palace is launching a collaboration with Ralph Lauren on 9 November. Does it get much bigger than that? The menswear-focused collection features puffer jackets, rugby shirts and zip-ups that wouldn’t look out of place on a female street styler (or myself – I have been eyeing them up daily).
To get a sense of how big a fashion moment this collection is, ask yourself this: how many other collaborations have you ever seen Ralph Lauren do?
Then comes Off-White, which has catapulted beyond everyone’s expectations since its launch in Milan in 2012. Founded by American designer Virgil Abloh, the brand has become one of the most recognisable labels on the street-style circuit, and is now acknowledged as a streetwear pioneer.
Much of this is down to Off-White’s partnerships with Nike and Converse, which were the most-hyped trainer collaborations in, well… forever. Seriously: they were so popular that fans had to enter raffles to win a chance to buy the trainers. It was madness, but people kept coming back for more.
Since founding Off-White, Abloh has fast become one of fashion’s favourite (and most powerful) men. Since March this year, he has held the prestigious role of creative director at Louis Vuitton menswear, as well as his continuing his own line.
More mainstream than both Supreme and Palace, Off-White’s easily identifiable aesthetic of block lettering surrounded by speech marks that usually describes the product it is on. More mainstream than both Supreme and Palace, Off-White has an easily identifiable aesthetic of block lettering surrounded by speech marks (usually describing the product it is on). Case in point: a black pencil skirt with the work “skirt” emblazoned down the side.
The brand’s huge popularity with Hypebeast fans and beyond has allowed Off-White to collaborate with the likes of fragrance house Byredo and even IKEA.
The thing that ties all these brands together isn’t their obvious streetwear aesthetic. Rather, it’s the fact that their founders and subsequent creative heads have had no formal training. Their aesthetic was born out of a desire to create things they actually wanted to wear. And if the founders wanted to wear their pieces, the likelihood was that like-minded people would too.
There’s no denying the power of these brands – and not just for their British Fashion Award nominations. At a time when lots of established houses are rethinking their sales strategies and diversifying their product into beauty or homeware, these are three home-grown brands built from the street up and generating huge sales.
So, if you were thinking about investing in a Gucci bag or Chanel shoes, I would think again. With a huge resale value, legitimate cool points and accessible price points, these brands are the ones to buy now – or regret later.
Images: Getty Images