What happens when streetwear-obsessed boys become streetwear-obsessed men and move out of their parents' places and into their own apartments? While many count on Ikea — or maybe CB2 if they've got a little more aesthetic prowess and cash — to fill the nooks and crannies of their homes, the most hype-conscious among them often look elsewhere. In fact, they're increasingly turning to the purveyor of their favorite T-shirts and skate decks: Supreme. Recent collections from the streetwear juggernaut have included such home accessories as a high-end audio speaker, an overtly branded red hatchet and a set of airtight glass storage jars — and box logo-loving men are keeping these items on display in their apartments in lieu of typical decor.
"I'm pretty sure that every dude I've ever dated has had at least a Supreme ashtray in their apartment," says Elysia Berman, a 29-year-old art director who lives in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. "It's a semi-accessible signifier that you're 'cool,' like a step up from shitty posters."
Adorning one's place with Supreme objects is nothing new: The phenomenon has been well chronicled for years on blogs like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety and, most recently, has made its way to Instagram's all-important Discover page. The photos, usually chock-full of white-and-red branded goods and rare sneakers, garner tens of thousands of likes, as home is one of the platform's most popular categories. Pierre-Emmanuel Zamane, a 30-year-old Supreme collector who lives in France, tells me that he has lost count of exactly how many Supreme goods he has in his apartment, but asserts that he has "hundreds of accessories," big and small. "I'm trying to make a gallery at home because, for me, Supreme accessories are now a part of contemporary art."
While the practice of mass-collecting Supreme like Zamane does still exist, a more commonplace trend of hanging a single skate deck on a wall or placing a lone ashtray on a coffee table is on the rise. The effect is not quite as over-the-top or jarring as packing your house with limited-edition logo-emblazoned goods, but just a few years ago, this decorating style was mostly limited to skaters, art dudes and streetwear aficionados.
As the label — and streetwear as a whole — has gone mainstream and upmarket, Supreme pieces and other hypebeast-related goods are now showing up in the homes of more and more guys in major cities across the globe. Ikea has already collaborated with Los Angeles-based streetwear brand Stampd, and in-demand designer Virgil Abloh is set to release his own collection with the Swedish company in 2019. In addition, there's a booming online market for unauthorized Supreme campaign posters on websites like Etsy, allowing fans to easily snag copies of iconic images featuring the likes of Mike Tyson, Morrissey, Lady Gaga, Kermit the Frog, Dipset and more dressed in logo T-shirts. (Writer Cat Marnell hilariously recounted her own journey to obtain an authentic Kate Moss x Supreme poster for XoJane back in 2012, going so far as to offer young neighborhood vandals cash to tear the plastered ads off the walls.)
Owning Supreme used to be an indicator that someone was in the know about the downtown New York scene, but nowadays it usually just means they read GQ or follow Justin Bieber on Instagram. "Back then it had a lot more cachet and now it's kinda passé. To me, it definitely used to represent old Lower East Side skate culture," says Berman, who has lived in New York City since the mid-aughts and first started seeing the brand's clothing and goods while attending Pratt Institute and interning at magazines like Nylon. Since the turn of the Millennium, Supreme went from something that not only appealed to grungy skaters but also design aesthetes. Today, it pretty much appeals to everyone.
"It's hard to miss [Supreme accessories] in New York, whether you're dating someone or just hanging out at a guy friend's apartment," says Jessica Schiffer, a 27-year-old freelance fashion journalist who is all too familiar with the brand and its devotees at this point. "I find Supreme to be kind of lame and over-hyped now, so I'm definitely not looking for really anybody in my life — romantically or otherwise — who thinks that Supreme is the shit."
Although Schiffer just recently moved in with her boyfriend — who is not a fan of hyped-up streetwear, she assures me — she has encountered her fair share of New York dude-apartments adorned with Supreme gear. "In the past when I've been dating and I've gone over to guys' apartments and seen a Supreme ashtray or a skateboard on the wall, I'm definitely taken aback. It tells me something about that person without having to say anything at all."
But what, exactly, does decorating with Supreme goods really say about someone? "That they're kind of superficial, maybe a 'fuccboi' for lack of a better term," Schiffer replies with a laugh. She's not alone in this sentiment: Artist Barbara Kruger famously called the brand a "ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers" in response to Supreme's legal feud with another label, and everyone from New York magazine's The Cut to Complex have dragged fans of the brand.
Much has been written about the appeal of Supreme and the psychology of brand devotion, from snarky tweets to wandering essays to actual books. David Shapiro's "Supremacist," a semi-autobiographical novel about a Supreme-obsessed New Yorker, explores the allure of the red box logo-adorned products in vivid detail. Shapiro writes about how the brand's accessories tend to carry illicit undertones: containers meant for drug storage, sharp objects like box cutters and knives, or items that skew more devilish, like a hollowed-out Bible, for example. When the book's protagonist is asked if owning these accessories makes him feel rebellious and dangerous, he responds, "Of course."
That particular quip may sound easy to disregard, but there is some truth to it. As a brand, Supreme does appeal to a certain part of the male psyche — the restlessness masculinity, the allure of youth, the desire to be cool. The sheer act of displaying a Supreme tchotchke on one's nightstand instantly offers an aura of cool, turning an innocuous side table into something with a little more edge. Plus, the same rules of exclusivity and scarcity that you see with Supreme's clothing also apply to the brand's accessories. While getting your hands on the goods isn't quite as difficult (and the resale profits usually aren't as high), it still isn't easy. A Supreme glass jar set from earlier this year sold out in 12 seconds, and a flask shaped like a bullet was gone in less than 20 seconds, according to the Supreme Community website. The complexities of male materialism aside, the reason many guys display these Supreme accessories is simply because the goods are well-designed and semi-pragmatic.
"I like Supreme stuff because of how they incorporate it into everyday life," explains Michael Tommasiello, a 30-year-old New Yorker who admits he has a hypebeast-friendly home. In addition to the Supreme objects that cover his walls and shelves, you'll also find Kaws figurines, Jean Michel Basquiat art books and several pairs of Nike x Off-White sneakers. "You can almost justify buying some of it under the basis that its practical. I try to buy stuff that sticks out to me and that I feel fits my room and lifestyle," he adds.
Tommasiello also mentions that his girlfriend, unlike Schiffer and the other women like her who expressed a general distaste for the brand, appreciates his collecting habit — and sometimes even encourages it. He isn't alone in that, either: Daniel Killian, who shares an apartment in Oakland, Calif. with his girlfriend, says she doesn't mind his Supreme accessories. In fact, he even bought her an Off-White x Ouai collaboration pill box for her last birthday.
"It's a good conversation starter in a way that few home decor trinkets are," says Killian. "Sure, you can buy some gold thing from CB2 that looks good or whatever, but it doesn't convey anything about your interests or personality." And he's right: Supreme-branded goods send an outward message, just as an Eames chair or Jeff Koons sculpture does. It's a much different visual message, but it still stands out as statement decor nonetheless.
"Putting the Supreme stuff on display is a little bit about being whimsical," explains Killian. "Our apartment is pretty clean and grown-up, but we still have things like a Supreme bouncy ball on display — collectible plastic ball mostly sought after by 15-year-old boys." And when I ask Tommasiello which Supreme accessory is his favorite, he replies: "The mason jars. Because they hold my weed."
Perhaps that's the true appeal of scattering Supreme knick-knacks throughout one's house: The goods are fun and a bit mischievous in ways that decorative objects from typical home goods retailers just aren't. The brand's recently unveiled Fall/Winter 2018 collection features a number of playful accessories, including a step ladder that feels more decorative than utilitarian thanks to its cherry red hue, a branded PVC inflatable chair that's equal parts nostalgic and functional and glossy, artful versions of the plastic anatomy models commonly used in science class. All of the logoed items double as symbols of streetwear clout, but no one would put this stuff in their apartment if they didn't want to look at it day in and day out.
While a shrine of Supreme-branded home decor might be the epitome of cool in the eyes of 15-year-olds scrolling Instagram, unless you've texted James Jebbia at least once, your decorating choices run the risk of coming off as fuccboi-kitsch — or worse, thirsty for likes. In 2018, Supreme accessories don't carry the same niche subcultural vibe as they did ten or even five years ago, but diehards, casual fans and naysayers alike can all agree it's a more savvy decor move than, say, a "Scarface" poster or sparsely filled shelves.
Homepage photo: A Supreme x Louis Vuitton trunk. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)