What do a teenage rapper & one of the most well known fashion writers in the world have in common? Their love for Supreme of course, have a look at this interview below with GQ’s Glenn O’Brien & Odd Futures Tyler The Creator on their love for Supreme & how they got into the brand.
GQ: How did you guys first become aware of Supreme?
GLENN O’BRIEN: Supreme is in my neighborhood in New York, so I’d walk by it all the time. I’d see 150 guys standing in line and figured out that’s when they’d have some kind of new sneaker or something in there. I didn’t want to be the old guy walking into Supreme, but then I was walking by one day and they were showing Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party from the ’80s on this big bank of TVs and I thought, Jeez, I guess I can go in there now. So I started going in there and buying shit, and I got to be friends with some of the guys who worked there, I got to know [founder] James Jebbia and the guys in the store.
TYLER, THE CREATOR: We would always skate around the area it’s at [in L.A.]. That was the only store in the area at the time that sold skateboards, so we’d go in there and buy boards, and I just gradually became friends with the guys who were working there. They would always just look out for us, me and my friends, when we were over there and out and about. They were like our big brothers over there and shit, they were older than us. I’m still cool with them to this day—I was over there yesterday. And over the last year, as I got bigger perhaps or whatever, I would always rap about it, and the guys at the L.A. store would always put a good word in for me with the dudes, the head guys, in New York. I eventually met Jebbia and Angelo [Baque] and all those guys, and we’ve been cool since. They respect me for doing what I do, and I respect them, cause that’s my favorite shit. It’s just cool I can be a part of this family and shit. They show me love, I show them love, they’re awesome, and I’ve always looked up to them.
GQ: One of the interesting things about Supreme is that they’re not gross about branding and marketing—they rely on quality product, word of mouth and a strong visual aesthetic.
TYLER: Visual aesthetic is important to me. I take video directing and designing album art and shit like that very serious, and they do, too. So that’s one thing I like from them, the way they design certain things—not too much, not too little.
GLENN: It’s sort of a non-strategy strategy. I think it just comes out having integrity. I don’t think we should be Communists or anything, but they do business in a kind of honorable way that I really respect. And that’s really rare, especially in the clothes business.
TYLER: That’s why I like them, because they don’t fuck with anybody. And I don’t really fuck with anybody. I keep my circle close and they do too, they don’t associate themselves with other brands that they don’t respect or actually like.
GQ: It’s not a brand that bends over backwards to woo you.
GLENN: Which is good, because I’m unwooable.
GQ: What do you think about Supreme’s emphasis on short runs? It seems smart, not just because demand outweighs supply, but because they can take the time to do a few things really well.
GLENN: That’s one of the cool things about James. He started making skateboard decks with artists and selling them for $65. And then people would turn around and sell them for $600. But did he raise the price to $600? No, he kept it where it was, because he’s serving his customers and that’s what those guys do. They have the right idea about a business. I hope I conduct my business in the same kind of way.
TYLER: The fact that the runs are so short means that two people feel special when they get certain stuff. Instead of 500, they’ll make 200, and then people feel more special knowing that only 199 other people have it.
GQ: Glenn, you wrote the intro to the book Supreme did with Rizzoli and are one of the few people to have interviewed James Jebbia, who’s known for being kind of press-shy. How did that come about?
GLENN: We’re friends, and I figured James would do it with me because he knew that I knew where he was coming from and trusted that it would be done right. For [the Rizzoli book], he just called me up and asked me if I would do it and I said of course. When I’m writing about something I like, it’s a pleasure.
GQ: What Supreme does transcends skate culture and taps into art, music, film, even politics.
GLENN: I don’t pay any attention to skateboard fashion or anything like that, but they work with artists who I respect and a lot of my friends have done stuff with them, and I think that’s great. They have interests that I can relate to.
TYLER: Same here. Like with music, again, what you said—they’re in different worlds and shit. Like skateboarding, that’s high value to Supreme, and then music and art, and they’re in the fashion world too. So, I don’t know. They’re pretty versatile.
GLENN: They were friends with Malcolm McLaren—
TYLER: I was gonna bring that shit today too!
GLENN: —and Malcolm’s somebody who also did clothes, but he did them in a way that was completely individualistic and a little bit political and out-there.
GQ: I wondered whether the geography of the downtown New York shop made Supreme more inclined to engage with the art world. Even the logo looks like a play on Barbara Kruger’s work.
GLENN: It’s not, actually. Well, I don’t know if you could say it’s a coincidence, but it’s a really common typeface, and red and white really stands out. I think the only importance of the store in SoHo geographically is that Lafayette is a big wide street that doesn’t have much traffic on it, so kids can skateboard in front of the store.
GQ: What are some of your favorite artist collaborations Supreme has done?
GLENN: There are so many. Christopher Wool. I like the Richard Prince bunny skull, I like the Larry Clark board. They’re all equally good to me. Peter Saville, the great art director who worked with Joy Division. I was really close with this guy Sean Mortensen, an L.A. photographer, and he put me in a Supreme lookbook. He went to live with the Zapatistas, the revolutionaries in Mexico, and they did all these shirts with pictures of the Zapatistas on it. That was great.
TYLER: There’s a lot of artists I didn’t know about that I learned about from them. My favorite collaboration they did was with Sean Cliver. He has decks with black dudes in KKK suits, a white kid with a Hitler mustache dressed as a pimp, stuff with John Wayne Gacy—just cool decks. I like his art a lot, and I didn’t know about him until I seen that shit. That was back in ’07, I believe.
GQ: There are forums on Odd Future fan pages dedicated to what Supreme gear you’re wearing. How do you feel about that?
TYLER: Yeah, that’s fucking weird. I try to tell all the—not even the kids, even people older than me—to just be themselves. Don’t wear what I wear ’cause I wear it; wear what you like. It’s weird when there’s another 20-year-old in an outfit I wore last week. I hate that shit! Wear what you want to wear. Don’t be a copy of me.
GQ: Do you consider yourself a fashion dude?
TYLER: I’m not into fashion, but I like design. I wear the same shoes every day. These same pants. I’ve been wearing this Supreme hat for a month. The only thing that changes everyday is my shirt and my jacket. I just wear regular T-shirts, truthfully, but I do like button-ups or crazy prints and designs—colorful shirts and shit. It’s either that or a regular white shirt. I’m not into fashion like that; I’ll throw on a shirt and be a fucking man, you know? I have this one button-up with a bunch of flags and metal on it, and I really like that shirt because I like the way that shit looks, but some people might take it like, Oh he’s into fashion. But I just like the shirt. All the little metals look cool. And I like tie-dye.
GQ: You did a lookbook spread for Supreme. I can’t imagine you’d be doing that for just any brand.
TYLER: Aw, hell no. People have asked, but it’s like why would I do that when I don’t even wear your shit and hate your brand? That was on one of my goal lists, to be in a lookbook for Supreme, so that was as close as I got. I was really fuckin’ happy. It was so tight. Aaron [Bondaroff] put that together. Hi Aaron!
GQ: What is Supreme doing that no one else is getting right?
TYLER: Nothing. That’s what it is, that’s why I like them. If that nothing makes any fucking sense. Everybody else is trying something, and they’re just doing it. I have to fart.
[Later on, GQ caught up with Glenn to ask a few more questions...]
GQ: Glenn, how do you wear Supreme as an adult male, versus how Tyler and his friends might wear it?
GLENN: Well, I tuck my shirt in.
GQ: How can dudes incorporate Supreme stuff into a look that’s more polished?
GLENN: You just wear the right size. I’ve been buying their chinos for years, I think they’re just the best; they also have very nice jeans. And I think those things mix perfectly—you could wear them with a tweed sportcoat or a blazer. I don’t like to dress head-to-toe in any designer or brand, but a lot of this stuff integrates really well into a wardrobe. The T-shirts are really well made, and they have a stretchy panel down the side so that they actually fit right. A lot of thought goes into these clothes.
GQ: What’s your impression of Tyler’s music?
GLENN: To me, it’s almost like stand-up comedy with a beat.
GQ: And you’ve seen Odd Future’s videos?
GQ: What did you think?
GLENN: I don’t think he really ate that big bug.