A NEW KID ON SUPREME'S BLOCK

Supreme, born from skateboarding counterculture of 90's New York, is today the giant in the in the luxury room, a billion dollar behemoth with Louis Vuitton collaborations that demand prices more fitting of CarMax than Barney's. Supreme's position in streetwear is that of a president just sworn in to a final term: inarguably at the height of power, but facing an inevitable decline nonetheless.

Another analogy for Supreme might be the band you saw for years play sweaty shows in VFW halls, basements, or beer-soaked clubs who have since graduated to Good Morning America performances and massive arena audiences. It's still the same group of people, and you celebrate their accomplishments, but the meaning of identifying with that tribe has changed.

And that's okay; nothing stays the same forever. This is America - striving for popularity and financial success is woven in to the DNA of our youth, especially when it doesn't require compromising morals or excessive self-adulation. But when that thing - be it a musician, artist, or clothing brand - reaches a cultural awareness tipping point, what's lost is the "it" factor, the inexplicable signifier of an idea or essence that defines "cool." And so the onus falls on the consumer to find the next wave, to be the ones who decides which brand most resembles a circa-2006 Supreme, if not in potential future earnings than in the way it felt to walk down the street and exchange a knowing nod with someone whose clothes stood for membership in the same uncommon club.

As good an answer as any to the question of, "Who will next occupy Supreme's throne?" may be Alex Olson's sister brands, Bianca Chandôn and Call Me 917, the latter of which was featured on one of RHODODENDRON's earliest posts. Although Olson's brands eschew Supreme's vertical distribution model they each have a common retailer in Supreme's only third party stockist, Dover Street Market, which has collaborated on unique pieces with and carries in its stores all three brands.

Credit where credit is owed - Bianca Chandôn has borrowed plenty of inspiration from Supreme, in design as well as ethos. Take Bianca Chandôn's Arabic Logotype T-Shirt; while Supreme did it first, all the way back in 1999, translating brand names or innocuous phrases in to Arabic lettering has become an effective means of drawing attention to xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments in 2017 America. And where Supreme rehashed their design almost 20 years later for FW17, the Bianca Chandôn shirt feels more like a newcomer stepping up to the big kid on the block than a lack of new ideas cashing in on cultural zeitgeist.

 

Price:  $63

Brand:  Bianca Chandôn

Store:  Norse Store

Why:  In an age where at least half the country has never met a Muslim person, and yet almost that same percentage voted for a man who vowed to keep Muslims out of America, any message in Arabic can be seen as a statement against xenophobia and hate. After you've spent at least an equivalent amount donating to the ACLU or supporting political candidates who preach tolerance and acceptance, buying this shirt is as good a way as any to get out the messages that, first, ignorance does not have to end in fear, and second, the walking down the street, knowing nod club is still open for business if you know where to look.