This article was updated at 10am on Dec 13.
- Earlier this week, Samsung had a product launch in China where it announced a partnership with cult fashion brand, Supreme.
- It turns out Samsung is actually partnering with a “rip-off” of the brand, which the fashion industry would class as a “legal fake”.
- In a social media post that has since been removed, Samsung stated that it was collaborating with Supreme Italia; not the authentic Supreme NYC.
- On Dec 12, Samsung China said it was reevaluating the partnership, and apologised for any inconvenience caused.
Fans of American skateboard clothing brand Supreme are enraged after Samsung announced on Dec 10 that it would be officially collaborating with the Supreme brand in China.
As it turns out, the brand partnering Samsung is not the legendary cult brand seen on celebrities like Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
Instead, it is what the fashion industry calls a legal fake – a company which precedes the original brand company in the registration of a trademark, and often runs its own business in another country or territory through exploitation of the creativity and strategies of the original brand.
During the unveiling of the Samsung A8s in Beijing, Samsung China’s head of digital marketing Feng En told the audience that the brand would be collaborating with fashion brand Supreme. He then invited on stage two Supreme representatives, including its CEO.
But instead of English fashion designer James Jebbia, two Chinese men took the stage. One of them was even wearing a black hoodie featuring a “Supreme” logo.
Feng introduced Supreme’s CEO as a person with the surname Tong, a plump bespectacled man who went on to say how honoured the brand was to be able to partner with the electronics giant.
According to Feng, the collaboration will result in a series of collaborative products that are “fashionable” and “creative”.
Part of the partnership involves a seven-storey Supreme flagship store in Beijing, Tong added. According to him, Supreme will officially launch and open stores across China in 2019, and also hold a fashion show at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
In an embarrassing turn of events, the original Supreme brand founded by Jebba clarified after the Samsung event concluded that it was not working with Samsung in any capacity.
In a strongly-worded statement published by Hypebeast, the brand said: “Supreme is not working with Samsung, opening a flagship location in Beijing or participating in a Mercedes-Benz runway show. These claims are blatantly false and propagated by a counterfeit organisation”.
According to Chinese news site Sina, a senior manager of digital marketing at Samsung China then took to Weibo to state that the company’s collaboration is with Supreme Italia, and not the American fashion label. In the now-deleted post, he added that Supreme Italia owned the sales and distribution rights in China and Asia Pacific – with the exception of Japan, where the original Supreme already operates – whereas the American brand did not.
According to fashion site Highsnobiety, Supreme Italia or Supreme Barletta is “massive” in Italy, and has been flooding the market with products bearing the famous red box “Supreme” logo for years.
In August, another fashion site Nss reported that an Italian court had ruled against Supreme, making it legal for “Supreme” products made by Supreme Italia and Supreme Spain to be sold in Italy and Spain.
Originally a South Korean brand, Samsung has neither responded to these revelations nor clarified if it knowingly went into partnership with a legal fake brand. But on Dec 12, Samsung China posted a statement on Weibo saying that it was “reevaluating” its partnership with Supreme Italia.
According to Highsnobiety, the statement said: “Recently, Samsung Electronics announced at the launch of the Galaxy A8s that it will cooperate with Supreme Italia in the Chinese market. We are currently reevaluating this cooperation and we deeply regret the inconvenience caused.”
Needless to say though, fans of the original Supreme brand – which once had fans queuing up to buy a US$30 clay brick – are incensed.
In response to the news posted on Supreme fan account @Supreme_leaks_news, an Instagram user with the handle @christarfire asked: “How did they fool a whole company like Samsung?”
Another Instagrammer @landonbonilla said: “Not ok this needs to be stopped”.
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