Limited merchandise drops sent people lining up on the sidewalk outside the Sunset Boulevard store, which previously had been a Tower Records outpost when records and compact discs were the way to listen to music.
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The streetwear brand, built on the principle of scarcity, needed room to grow. Its cramped quarters on Fairfax Avenue a few miles away played havoc with the neighborhood, where street parking was limited. It was not unusual for customers to camp out overnight on the sidewalk or line up a full day before a limited merchandise drop.
At 8,500 square feet, the store is almost twice as big as the Fairfax Avenue location and has some 40 parking spaces for employees and customers. A Supreme employee stands watch on the adjacent residential thoroughfare to make sure store patrons aren’t taking up public street parking. Other employees direct customers in and out of the Supreme parking lot to make way for more cars.
Inside the store, the sleek decor is highlighted by tall white walls and polished concrete floors. “It’s cool,” said Jesse Villa, shuffling through a rack of clothes. He was making his second trip to the store to buy a skateboard. He liked the free-floating skate bowl occupying one section of the store and the colorful artwork on the walls by Nate Lowman, Josh Smith, Neckface and F–k This Life. A specially commissioned statue by pro skateboarder Mark Gonzales, showing a cartoon-like character driving a race car, sits in the middle of the store where light falls from the skylights.
A compact display of merchandise sits on shelves and racks showing T-shirts, pants, outerwear, hoodies, sweaters, sneakers, backpacks, hats and skateboards.
“It’s way bigger than the other Supreme store,” said Rina Lee, who was visiting Los Angeles with friends from Seoul. “I like the atmosphere.”
She is a diehard Supreme fan and has shopped at the two New York-area stores as well as at the old Supreme store on Fairfax. She always carves out time to visit any local Supreme store when traveling because the brand has no stores in South Korea.
The label has 15 locations around the globe. There are five in the U.S., including San Francisco and Chicago, six in Japan and four in Europe.
Lee said she bought a pair of sweatpants and a jacket for herself and a T-shirt for her little brother.
To advertise the move, Supreme developed an unusual advertising campaign. It had a helicopter wrapped in red with white letters spelling out Supreme. It was filmed flying around the world-famous Hollywood sign.
At the old Supreme store, a display window is covered with a drawn metal curtain showing a long skinny arm painted on the front and a finger pointing to Supreme’s new address. Down the block, there is a large white billboard hovering overhead with the red Supreme logo announcing the new location at 8801 Sunset Boulevard.
Supreme was launched in 1994 by James Jebbia in downtown Manhattan’s Brooklyn Street and soon become a popular skate culture hangout and a hot label. Fast forward to the end of 2020 when VF Corp. bought the company for $2.1 billion.
Now the multibillion-dollar corporation, whose collection of brands include The North Face, Timberland, Vans and Dickies, plans to expand Supreme’s annual revenues, which most recently totaled $561 million.
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