The anticipation started building as soon as the wheatpaste ads began appearing on the streets of Soho.
For its spring/summer 2016 legendary streetwear brand Supreme shot a campaign with legendary musicial artist Morrissey. In the world of streetwear it was, well, legendary. Two brash iconoclasts were coming together.
Or so it seemed.
On February 13, Supreme posted a picture of the wheatpaste campaigns on Instagram with the caption, “Morrissey for Supreme 2016. For more info on our agreement with Morrissey visit our Facebook page.”
In a rare act of transparency, Supreme revealed the details of its arrangement with the singer and provided a chronology of events that had transpired. Supreme said it approached Morrissey in July 2015 about posing for a photo shoot wearing the company’s famed box logo tee, similar to other icons such as Neil Young, Kermit the Frog, and Kate Moss. The images were to be used for a T-shirt and a poster. Morrissey, according to Supreme, “required a substantial fee for his participation in this project which Supreme paid up front and in full.”
Following a two-hour shoot with photographer Terry Richardson, Morrissey rejected all of the images and “insisted on using a photo that he had taken of himself wearing a Supreme T-shirt for the campaign.”
Since that image was not to Supreme’s liking, the brand offered Morrissey the option to either take part in another photo session, approve one of the existing images, or give the money back. According to Supreme, he refused all options, arguing that the contract was void because the company had worked with White Castle in the past.
Morrissey offered the following statement:
I apologize enormously for the enfeebled photograph of me issued this week by Supreme. The shot was taken in October 2015. I considered the photograph to be fit only for a medical encyclopedia and I pleaded with Supreme not to use it. This was before I learned that Supreme were sponsored in part by the beef sandwich pharaoh known as White Castle. Supreme were issued with a legal caution not to use the photograph and their fee would be returned. Evidently Supreme have ignored my lawyer. No safety within the corridors of law. Ugh.
I offer excessive apologies for this association. Shame is indeed the name.
While Supreme is not sponsored by White Castle, it did release a capsule collection with the fast food chain last year. Morrissey is a well-known vegetarian and animal-rights activist, who has very strict guidelines prohibiting the serving of meat at his concerts.
Unable to come to a resolution, Supreme elected to move forward with the campaign. On Monday morning, Supreme released images of its spring/summer collection and the Morrissey T-shirt was included.
It’s hard to imagine Supreme hype reaching even higher levels, but this controversy ensures that the lines that stretch around the block for its drops will be even longer this go-around.
Supreme’s full statement is below:
In July of 2015 Supreme approached Morrissey to participate in one of it’s poster and T-Shirt campaigns. The scope of the project was explained in full detail to Morrissey, including the intended look, the setting, the photographer, as well as the items that would be produced: a T-Shirt and a poster. An agreement was entered which named the photographer as Terry Richardson, who has shot many of Supreme’s campaigns, and whom Morrissey has worked with before. Images of past campaigns were sent to Morrissey for reference so that the intended result was clear. Morrissey required a substantial fee for his participation in this project which Supreme paid up front and in full. The photo shoot lasted two hours and Morrissey was free to do, and pose as he wished. The agreement prohibits Morrissey from “unreasonably” withholding approval of the use of photographs taken at the photo shoot.
After offering Morrissey several options of images from the shoot, Morrissey rejected them all with no explanation. Instead, Morrissey insisted on using a photo that he had taken of himself wearing a Supreme T-shirt for the campaign. This image was later made public on Instagram by his nephew.
Unable to use this image Supreme repeatedly offered Morrissey three very reasonable options as a remedy to the impasse: 1) To do an entire re-shoot at Supreme’s sole expense, 2) To select one of the many options from the shoot with Terry Richardson that were offered to Morrissey, 3) To return the money that was paid to Morrissey by Supreme.
Morrissey repeatedly ignored all three options with no reason given as to why. He then proceeded to assert a sudden and ridiculous claim that because Supreme had used the White Castle logo on a group of products in the past, and because he is a known vegetarian, that the agreement was supposedly terminated.
In light of this ploy, Supreme once again requested the return of the money it had paid to Morrissey so that both parties could walk away from the project. However, he refused.
After many attempts to solve this problem, and left with no other viable options, Supreme proceeded to publish these images as per it’s agreement with Morrissey.