At 11 a.m. on Thursday mornings, the line at Supreme on Lafayette Street in SoHo is never not long. But it's been attracting more attention as of late thanks to a string of incidents involving queues and sneakerheads. In early April, the police had to break up a riot when Supreme dropped its latest Nike collaboration. And just last weekend, there was a shooting at a Foot Locker in Bushwick after someone cut the line for a pair of Nike "Yeezy" sneakers.
Last Thursday was a fairly quiet day: no riots and no police, at least when I was there. Those in line were waiting for the $32 20th Anniversary T-Shirt--a resissue of an original Supreme logo tee that has been out of production for some time. (A skateboard deck in the same design was also for sale for $49. Both are now sold out.)
Supreme does a drop every Thursday. And every time there's a drop, there's a line. Usually that line is made up of young men -- hypebeasts, they're sometimes called -- who collect Supreme paraphernalia, and often other stuff, like limited-edition Nike sneakers. In general, "young" means under 21. (While Supreme might do collaborations with Brooks Brothers and Comme des Garçons, most of what it sells is affordable. Many t-shirts are under $60. Hats are typically under $100.)
But while Supreme is a guy's brand first, I've known of girls who are interested in it, too. A friend more familiar with this world said there should be some girl collectors in this particular crowd. I scanned the first section of the line -- made up of the diehards who camp out for hours, and sometimes days -- without spotting one female. But when I turned the corner, the makeup was different. In the tangle of boys, there were a few women, too.
The first brushed me off. "I'm with him," she said, rolling her eyes over to the boy standing next to her. "I'm not into fashion." (For a firsthand account of what it's like to be this girl, read "I Dated a Hypebeast, and Here's Why I'll Never Date One Again," on Complex.com.)
Moving on, I met Milana, a 21-year-old sneaker collector who works at premium sneaker store Ubiq in Philadelphia. She's not a big Supreme collector herself, but her friends are, so she drove up to buy them t-shirts. "I had the time to do it. And it's a trip to New York," she said. Plus, she only expected to have to to wait in line for a couple more hours. In the past, she's done three nights of waiting to add to her sneaker collection. ("I'm getting rid of some, but right now I have about 85 pairs," she said. That's not too bad, right? "No, but when you look at it all in one spot, then it looks crazy.") Milana -- whose last big purchase was a pair of Jordan 1 Barons on April 5 -- said most of her friends who collect are guys, although there are some good groups for "girl sneakerheads" on Facebook. "Not many [women] are willing to camp. I know people who have done it two or three times, but then they're not really that interested."
Further up the queue was Yuqi, a 24-year-old college student from China who brought a lawn chair to keep comfortable. Although she's been collecting for five years, this was her first in-person drop. In the past, she's only bought pieces from Supreme -- and BAPE, one of her other favorite brands -- online. She'd been waiting since 6 a.m. "I really want the Box Logo tee, but I'm not sure if I will get it," she said. "If there is any one -- any size, any color left -- I would buy it."
Finally, I spoke with Michelle, a 15-year-old who was skipping school for a good cause --that is, to make sure her boyfriend could get as many Supreme pieces as possible. (Much like an H&M designer collaboration, Supreme limits the number of items one person can buy.) She doesn't think she'd come back, though. "It's tiring," she said. "I don't really care for it. Some people hype it up a little too much. It's not fun until you get inside."
Photo: Guian Bolisay/Flickr