Louis Vuitton and Supreme, iconic French fashion house and downtown Manhattan streetwear brand respectively, launched their much-hyped collaboration at Louis Vuitton’s menswear show at Paris fashion week. Supreme has flirted with the establishment ‘kiss and punch’ style before. The notorious Supreme brick seemed to be a simultaneous middle finger up to, and flirtation with, the commerciality of consumerism. This is just one of the tensions that the collaboration highlights, read on for the questions we have about the collaboration and the tensions that make it a particularly interesting one:
The collaboration is aimed at men unlike the women-oriented designer collaborations to date. While this is not surprising, it could mark the opening of the floodgates. Zara x Tom Ford? Topman x Armani?
Paris Fashion Week is the Louvre of the fashion world, a hallowed hall of art and creativity. It is highly unusual for a collaboration to appear as part of a main show. This is telling, LV is clearly taking the collaboration seriously and sees the LV x Supreme relationship as a symbiotic one, and rightly so, which brings us to our next point…
Supreme is no H&M. At the weekly Thursday ‘drop’ of new Supreme pieces, collections sell out instantly. This means that the resale value is astronomical and the rarity of products has propelled the brand into the minds of the exclusive and the aspirational. In this way, Supreme brings an inimitable, and crucially, lucrative cool to the table. Supreme is a legitimate player on the bona fide fashion stage, which may be amusing to those who recall that not so long ago, LV filed a cease and desist against Supreme for using their logo on merchandise.
Collaborations require the perfect balance of Yin and Yang, they rarely work when two aesthetically similar brands converge for a hot minute just to make a quick buck. With LV and Supreme, we have brands at opposite ends of the fashion spectrum, even their logos assign them semiotically to their pole, luxury and streetwear in turn. The price point of the items in the collaboration will be LV standard so it will be interesting to see whether this will challenge Supreme’s claim to be true to the streets. Or conversely, will this propel the brand even further and make the ‘normal’ Supreme prices seem entirely palatable, an acceptable buy-in price to get a piece of one of the most exclusive brands in fashion? But what does this collaboration do to the notions of luxury and streetwear? Does it blur them, render them redundant or make them more poignant than ever? Supreme is turning away from the roots that built it into the desirable brand it is today – it has now become part of the fashion world, a world that it used to be estranged from, a door from which it used to be turned away, now it is on the inside, a double agent. This will doubtless sully the spirit of the brand in the minds of original fans, but this is certainly not to say that this will stop it from being an enormously successful commercial arrangement.