The Supreme Box tee was once the steezy signifier of an ‘in the know’ streetwear aficionado with everyone from Tyler the Creator to Kanye buying into the hype. Its significance and strengths came from its simplicity, yet it was able to be simplistic because Supreme has such an untarnishable and grounded self-awareness of its brand identity and purpose. The less is more approach to the box tee worked because everyone wanted to be a part of the Supreme story. So where are all the box tee’s now?
The box tee’s dwindling public persona can partly be explained by its ultimately detrimental, yet not totally avoidable, shift in its target demographic. Supreme became the face of underground fashion due to its unparalleled ability to nurture true fan support amongst the skate communities of New York and LA. However in recent years, coincidently coinciding with the sale of Supreme to Timberland, the brand has strayed deeper into the depths of Hypebeast culture and become more of a name rather than a movement.
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As mobs of teens flanked by AI armies now claim every piece of Supreme branded merch before the rest of us stand a chance, there’s little wonder as to why the once never ending lines outside Supreme stores have dissipated and with them so too has a lot of its original supporters. There used to be a certain romanticism behind standing shoulder to shoulder alongside fellow Supreme savants in the rain to claim a new box tee drop, a community was forged in fire that installed actual meaning and importance to the box tee. Without the culture that built the cultural significance of the box tee, it became a lot less desirable to wear a solely Supreme emblazoned shirt when we none knew what the brand represents anymore.
With a growing contemporary focus on materials and utilitarian quality, new gorpcore brands like Arc’teryx, North Face and Gore-tex have filled the box-shaped void in our affections as Supreme tries to recapture fandom by investing in the gorpcore trend. Most significantly, the rise of gorpcore can help us explain that a logo is no longer enough to hold cultural relevance without maintaining quality and fostering a clear cut sense of community.