This originally appeared in Show Notes, GQ staffer Samuel Hine’s fashion week newsletter. For more stories like it, hit the link and subscribe.
Last Thursday night, the only hotspot in Paris was a gentlemen’s club off the Champs Elysee. Supreme was in town, throwing one of its biggest parties since the beginning of the pandemic. Inside, David Blaine pulled cards out of stunned skaters’ ears as strippers wearing slashed-up box logo T-shirts gyrated nearby. It was crowded with Supreme team members from Paris, London, and New York, club kids, rappers, fashion insiders, and artists like Kunle Martins. In other words, it was a classic Supreme bash, thrown for the global downtown. But there was something different in the air, too. For one, there was a gaggle of Thom Browne employees, decked out in their customary short suits, waiting for drinks at the bar. The crowd waiting in line outside was decked out in designer clothing. For the first time in the brand’s history, Supreme had officially landed at fashion week.
Why now? I asked Supreme’s new creative director, Tremaine Emory, to clue me in. When Emory joined Supreme in February, it was the first major appointment announced since VP Corp acquired the brand for $2.1 billion in 2020, and a sign that there might be a shift underway as the skate label finishes out its third decade. Emory is the founder of Denim Tears, a clothing brand that’s also his mouthpiece for racial justice and cultural activism. Like his friend and collaborator Virgil Abloh was, Emory isn’t bound by the fashion industry’s rules; his project, as he sees it, is too important for that. When he announced a Converse collaboration in 2020, he demanded that Converse parent company Nike commit to promoting real social change before he would approved the sneaker. Supreme has a rich history of political activism, but also embodies a sense of fuck-the-world cool-guy apathy. Emory’s appointment seems like a commitment to deepen the brand’s engagement in political and cultural issues, on a level beyond “Fuck the President” tees.
The first pieces Emory designed for the brand will be released this fall, with his first full collection coming next spring. But his impact is already being felt. Emory arrived at the party around 11:00 p.m., and everywhere he went, a crowd followed. Though he may have been hired from outside the company, the Supreme kids were already eating out of his hand. Emory explained that the party was in the works before his first day. But both moves—the party and Emory’s new gig—feel intimately connected: together, they serve as an acknowledgement that Supreme is as key a player in the wider fashion system as any luxury brand on the official fashion week schedule. “It’s all connected now,” Emory explained. Don’t expect a Supreme return to the runways; they’ve been there and done that courtesy of Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton. But under Emory, it’s safe to say Supreme will embrace the fashion world even further—and celebrate how much it has changed the industry. “Every fashion brand is trying to do what ’Preme’s been doing for 30 years,” Emory said. “Why not show up at the Super Bowl, when we helped write the playbook that a lot of people are using?”
Emory wasn’t just in town for the Supreme party. He was also taking showroom appointments for Denim Tears Spring 23, seeding pieces from his new Levi’s collab, and attending runway shows of his friends and collaborators. (Though he missed the Louis Vuitton show after security wouldn’t let him and Acyde in—a better sign than any, perhaps, that the revolution Abloh started isn’t anywhere close to complete.) He and Acyde also DJ’d GQ’s biannual Friday night Paris party at L’Avenue, a tradition started in June of 2018 with Acyde and Abloh.