The Real Story Of Supreme

by MR Magazine Staff

From a block away, you could smell the Nag Champa in the air, like a sandalwood smoke signal. As you got closer you could hear the music echoing through the canyon of Manhattan, then see the crowd outside the building, sometimes 40 or 50 deep, spilling off the sidewalk onto Lafayette Street. The locus of it all was ostensibly a store—but back then, when it first opened, in 1994, retail concerns seemed incidental to the real purpose of Supreme, which sprung to life as a frenetic meet-up spot for the growing downtown New York skate community. In those days Lafayette Street wasn’t the commercial thoroughfare it is now, so kids from the boroughs and from New Jersey, Long Island, and upstate could gather without having to worry about being hassled by the cops or encroaching on the upscale businesses that now dot the neighborhood. At that time, there were no metal barricades or security guards, though the notorious lines of customers that would eventually necessitate such things would start soon enough. Out of sight, in an office or a back room, the man who conjured it all into being—Supreme’s founder, James Jebbia—could be found working the phones, haranguing his suppliers, coaxing another drop of tees, hoodies, and caps. He was on a mission to fill his perpetually empty shelves, impervious to the notion that something grand was taking shape. Read more at GQ.