Now arguably a wardrobe essential for any Hypebeast wannabe, this clothing brand was created to promote New York hip-hop, skateboarder, and youth street culture. However, Supreme has kept a pretty tight lid on where its goods are produced. Has it given its customers any answers?
Supreme has never officially revealed where its products are made. From the labels on its clothes, we can deduce that the brand has several manufacturing plants located in Canada, the US, and China.
What are the implications of the brand’s transparency policy?
How They Do It
Supreme is known to have a vertically integrated supply chain. This means that the brand owns the arms at every stage of production, including supply, manufacturing, and distribution. This increased control over the value chain helps Supreme to lower costs and speed up the production time in an age where fast fashion rules the market. Because of its higher efficiency, the brand can release seasonal limited-edition products (known on the street as “drops”) outside of its mass-produced stock while maintaining a sizeable profit margin.
However, this also gives Supreme a high degree of control over the amount of information that is publicly disclosed about its production process. The brand’s decision has been to keep these details, including where its goods are made, under wraps.
What We Know
Supreme has a tight marketing strategy built on exclusivity, with a grand total of only twelve stores worldwide. Of the twelve, a whopping six are located in Japan, four are in the US and the remaining two are in London and Paris. It’s incredibly rare for such a scarcely found franchise to be so popular and sought-after, which is a huge achievement on their part. Part of that success can very well be attributed to the authentic vibe created by its minimal store count.
As for the brand’s manufacturing locations, the only information we have to go on is from the labels on its clothing. Different customers have reported their Supreme hauls hailing from a few countries, namely the US, Canada, and China, but nowhere specific. Apart from that, it’s been really difficult to suss out any more details about its manufacturing. From reviews, though, the quality of authentic Supreme products seems to be consistently high regardless of the country of production.
What This Spells Out
Supreme’s complete lack of transparency makes it hard for its customers to be sure about how ethical its production is. As it stands, we have no clue what impact our Supreme purchases might have on serious issues like climate change, animal cruelty, and fair wages.
Meanwhile, the fashion industry today is gradually catering to a higher degree of consumer consciousness. More and more brands are becoming upfront about their production processes or promising to make concrete changes in more ethical directions. The lack of accountability in the Supreme brand could be a dealbreaker for a growing proportion of the market.
Where This Is Going
Supreme’s brand image is one of exclusivity and authenticity. Unlike other brands that would overload their customers with discounts and upcoming flash sales, it distinguishes itself by keeping its fans guessing and chasing after each new drop with an almost unmatched fervor. The mystery is a big element of its successful strategy to promote desirability, hype, and demand. Therefore, to jump on the transparency bandwagon understandably goes against its marketing values.
However, Supreme may have to rethink its branding in light of the increasing consumer mindset shift towards sustainability. As more and more consumers are crying out for brand transparency, its failure to adapt might cause other brands to leave Supreme in the dust. Good on You, an ethical brand analysis website, has compiled a list of brands that create similar products to Supreme, but are far more transparent in their manufacturing process. If Supreme wants to stay on-demand, it’s time they lived up to their authenticity ideals and started being more honest about where their products are made.