In most circles, Supreme is held up as the pinnacle of streetwear. Founded in 1994 on Lafayette Street in New York’s Soho neighborhood, the brand has created a unique lane for itself. While ostensibly still a skate shop, Supreme has collaborated with everyone from Kermit the Frog to Neil Young and consistently sells out its inventory the instant it becomes available online or in its stores in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Japan.
With success, of course, comes imitators. But an Italian company has taken things even further with an all-out copycat approach.
For as large as Supreme looms in the world of fashion and streetwear, founder James Jebbia only trademarked his brand name in 2012 and didn’t file an application to trademark its logo until 2013. A company in Italy, called Supreme Italia (it also goes by the name Supreme Barletta) has taken advantage of this loophole and is selling goods with Supreme’s famous box logo in the Futura Bold Oblique font. The Supreme Italia products have earned the nickname “legal fake” and are stocked in stores eager to supply a demand even if it means infringing on the branding of others.
NSS Magazine recently spoke with the managers of shops in Italy to get their take on why Supreme Italia has gotten away with its strategy. One opinion is that the Italian market is just not that large or important to the legit Supreme. Another thought is that the real Supreme doesn’t want to give credence to the imitator by engaging in a legal action.
The logo itself is its own issue. While it has become synonymous with Supreme, everything from the color to the typeface is inspired by the work of artist Barbara Kruger, which makes trademarking it more complicated.
Right now, the supremeitalia.com website redirects to the legitimate supremenewyork.com URL, but a cached version shows an image of a skateboarder doing a trick with the familiar Supreme logo (with “Italia” added underneath) on his griptape beneath the words “Website under construction.”