Supreme has alway released provocative streetwear, even before cancelling its contentious collaboration with Arthur Jafa. Here's the streetwear brand's most controversial releases.
Supreme recently made headlines for deciding not to release a controversial collaboration with the artist Arthur Jafa, which is partly why Tremaine Emory exited as the brand’s creative director this year. The shelved collaboration would have featured art that presented the lynching of Black men along with the whip-scarred back of a formerly enslaved person. While much commentary has been shared about this collaboration and Supreme’s “systemic racism,” it’s far from being the first dicey item that Supreme’s conceived in its nearly 30-year history.
“If the customer’s intelligent, and they’ve been following Supreme, [they know] Supreme puts out provocative art with artists. They just never do it with Black artists,” shared Emory in a Toure Show interview released Wednesday that addressed his split with the brand. “They put out calendars they sold in the store with women masturbating. There’s 30 years of this stuff that people could say is provocative, or inappropriate, or misogynist.”
Granted that the outcry surrounding Supreme’s unreleased collaboration with Jafa is unprecedented for the brand, there’s plenty of Supreme collaborations designed by artists who have certainly pushed buttons before. Even some of the more tame products Supreme’s released have ruffled feathers here and there. Truly, it’s hard to imagine some of these releases being dropped today. Especially now, since Supreme is owned by VF Corp. with shareholders who have stakes in the brand as it grows under corporate ownership.
While this list is certainly subjective, and they're other items that could make the cut, here’s just some of Supreme’s most controversial releases.