Kate Moss Tremaine Emory Supreme Creative Director Quit

Tremaine Emory is over Supreme, but will Supreme be over?

Tremaine Emory is over Supreme, but will Supreme be over?

by Ollie Cox
6 min

Denim Tears founder Tremaine Emory has left his role as the creative director of Supreme. He held the position from 2022, producing some of Supreme’s most nuanced and informed collections of late. But with the news of his departure has come allegations of “systematic racism,” per Emory’s letter of resignation that has been overviewed by the Business of Fashion

In the letter, Emory specifically notes: “systematic racism was at play within the structure of Supreme.” He continues to discuss Supreme’s senior management, saying there was an “inability to communicate” when it came to the “cancellation” of a collaboration Emory had in the pipeline with the Black American artist Arthur Jafa. According to Emory, and per BoF, Supreme failed to communicate “full visibility for the reasons behind [the cancellation].” In turn, Emory says “This caused me a great amount of distress as well as the belief that systematic racism was at play within the structure of Supreme.”

Supreme has since offered a statement exclusively to BoF: “While we take these concerns seriously, we strongly disagree with Tremaine’s characterisation of our company and the handling of the Arthur Jafa project, which has not been cancelled… This was the first time in 30 years where the company brought in a creative director. We are disappointed it did not work out with Tremaine and wish him the best of luck going forward.”

Cali Dewitt / Dior ©

When Emory took the helm of streetwear’s Big Apple behemoth, he introduced a more refined design direction whilst steadying an impending sinking ship with more of the same quintessential vibes, pairing Box Logos with an eclectic denim and outerwear offering. His first collection traded loud colours for a subtler palette, where a less brand-heavy approach felt like a breath of fresh air. Between the bogos were timeless menswear-infused pieces, such as a Kurt Kobain printed knit worn by Supreme team rider Sean Pablo, and rugged utility jackets worn by Violet shredder Patrick O’Mara.

There’s no doubt Emory was the right fit for Supreme. His own brand, Denim Tears, serves as a masterclass in how to collaborate – and collaborate authentically. He is at the epicentre of culture, and proved that even Supreme can lean further into the fashion sphere with elevated designs – evidenced by his last Supreme collection, Fall/Winter 2023, which had touches of Bottega Veneta-esque woven leather, to name one of many potential influences. 

His design input revived the skate-rooted brand to its former glory. Cast your mind back to a time when lines would snake through Soho, New York, and now Seoul every day of the week. 

However, with Emory citing “systematic racism” as the main factor for his departure, it seems Supreme may not be back to its heyday. 

Supreme has always served as a talent incubator for friends of the brand – think Sage Elsesser, who’s been lifted from unknown skater to Fucking Awesome pro and a Wales Bonner campaign model. Similarly, under Emory’s creative direction, the brand has paid closer attention to celebrating Black culture – something Supreme owes itself to, seeing it is a streetwear monolith. 

And Supreme continues to champion skateboarding in cities around the world, sponsoring skate events and even donating to London’s monumental Long Live Southbank exhibition in 2013, setting a precedent for putting profits back into the culture. 

This is what Supreme is about. This is what Tremaine Emory brought back to the brand at a time when it needed to find its originality and identity again.

Supreme ©

Tremaine is accomplished. And in light of the allegations, it’s clear Supreme needed Emory more than Emory needed Supreme. 

The brand’s sales are in decline for the first time in years, down more than $38 million dollars between March 2022 and March 2023. Was that because of Emory’s designs, or the shift in what “hype” means today? We think it was the latter. 

Emery has been behind coveted collaborations – a cornerstone of Supreme’s staying power. Denim Tears’ collaboration with Dior (aptly named Dior Tears), fused the worlds of luxury fashion and streetwear in ways Supreme previously taught us (per LV x Supreme), while Our Legacy x Denim Tears worked on a co-branded Tupac-inspired collaboration.  

At Supreme, he brought about the rumoured collection drawn from the MF Doom archives. NBA YoungBoy starred in recent campaign imagery, archival camouflage Box Logo graphics were resurrected, Tyshawn Jones’ Hardies Hardware label was at the forefront of another collaboration, and a collection with COOGI pinpointed Emory’s, and thus Supreme’s, ability to comment on streetwear icons and, subsequently, Black culture. 

Coupled with Supreme appointing Emory as its first Black creative director, and these allegations are more than damning. If VF Corporation’s acquisition of Supreme was the precursor to the New York brand’s death, is Emory’s departure the final nail in the coffin?

@tylersphotos Wales Bonner ©

Under Emory, we thought the real Supreme was back. He combined a fashionable foresight with his understanding of the culture. His repositioning of the brand had taken the attention away from hype and put it back on the product, opening the doors for a new generation to get stuck in and enjoy Supreme for what it is generally loved for – authentic and honest reflections of real cultural influence.

Ironically, the allegations point to a Supreme that might not be as authentically part of the culture as we’d initially thought. “We are disappointed it did not work out with Tremaine.” So are we, Supreme.

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