Gen Z is obsessed with Supreme, the skater brand that sells out almost instantly. Here’s what its store is like during one of its majorly hyped product launches.

Supreme's launches are a big deal because almost everything sells out instantly.

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Supreme’s launches are a big deal because almost everything sells out instantly.
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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

  • Teens are obsessed with Supreme, a skater brand that has seen mainstream success in recent years.
  • Supreme has garnered a lot of attention in the past week after copies of the New York Post with Supreme ads on the cover flew off the shelves. Almost all Supreme products sell out instantly.
  • Because of how quickly new products sell out, product launches, which fans call “drops,” have become heavily hyped-up events.
  • We went to the first big drop of the Fall/Winter 2018 season to see what it was like.

Supreme, once a niche skater brand, has become Gen Z’s latest obsession.

Supreme was founded in 1994 by James Jebbia and has since grown from a skater-centric brand to a mainstream apparel brand with its own cult following. The brand ranked seventh among upper-income teens’ favorite brands in a spring 2018 survey by Piper Jaffray, and in 2017, Supreme received a roughly $500 million cash infusion from The Carlyle Group, which valued the brand at $1 billion.

Earlier this week, loyal fans snatched up copies of the New York Post that featured a wraparound Supreme ad on the cover. The papers flew off the shelves, with copies of it now listed on eBay for many times its normal listing price. The paper typically costs $1.50.

It isn’t just the branded newspaper that fans are willing to pay for – most Supreme products sell out almost instantly, oftentimes ending up on eBay for as much as eight times the retail price.

Because of how quickly Supreme products sell out, the launches, known as “drops,” have become some of the most anticipated events of the year for its followers. Supreme drops happen each Thursday throughout the Fall/Winter season and Spring/Summer season, both online and in stores. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to buy a product or two before the website crashes and everything sells out.

We went to the highly anticipated first drop of the Fall/Winter 2018 season at the Supreme store on Lafayette Street in New York City. Here’s what it was like:


If you want to get into Supreme the day of a drop, which is every Thursday of the season, you have to register online for a spot in line in advance. The registration times are typically leaked by Supreme fan accounts like Twitter user @DropsByJay, who has over 115,000 followers.


Registration opens promptly at 11 a.m. I tried to register to get into this week’s drop, but the registration portal was already closed by 11:01 a.m. because all of the spots were taken. I couldn’t believe how fast registration had closed, especially because in order to register, you have to type in your name, email, phone, address, and credit-card number.

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Supreme

I went to the drop anyway to see what it would be like. Supreme has two stores in New York City: one in Brooklyn, and one in SoHo. I went to the location on Lafayette Street in SoHo.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

I was expecting a massive line and a bit of chaos. Instead, it was a pretty tightly run operation.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were security guards posted every few feet on Lafayette Street, as well as on the surrounding blocks.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Those who were able to register for a spot were given a specific time to show up. Groups for each time were told to wait in different lines, and each line was within two blocks of the store. There was no indication anywhere what each line was for — you had to ask around.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Splitting up the lines definitely helped with crowd control. It was a seemingly calm event considering how much hype it gets. The crowd was mostly teens and 20-somethings, with the exception of parents waiting with young children.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Two guards were posted at the door, directing people in and out. There was a very limited number of people allowed in the store at once. Each time someone left, only one or two people were allowed in. From the outside, it looked like only a dozen or so people were in the store.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

People weren’t shopping light — everyone that I saw exit the store had at least one massive shopping bag, if not more. Many shoppers were already wearing Supreme.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Typically, small items like pins and stickers are under $30, while shirts, bags, and hats will cost between $30 and $100. Jackets, hoodies, and pants usually cost between $100 and $300, with a few outliers.


While some people were stocking up on Supreme for themselves …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… others were looking to turn a profit. Within hours of the official 11 a.m. launch, products from the first drop of the season were listed on eBay for upwards of $300 — nearly 10 times the retail price in some cases.

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eBay