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Supreme appoints Tremaine Emory as creative director

Supreme has appointed Denim Tears founder Tremaine Emory as its new creative director, BoF has learned. Emory, who started this week, will work closely with the design team and Supreme founder James Jebbia, who will continue to oversee all aspects of the business. Emory will continue to design Denim Tears with Supreme. A spokesperson for Supreme confirmed the news.

Emory’s appointment is the brand’s biggest personnel change since it was acquired by VF Corp., owner of North Face. The deal of 2020 which valued the label at $2.1 billion. The deal cemented Supreme’s position in the fashion mainstream, but also raised questions about whether it will be able to maintain the “credit” factor that makes it so valuable as it continues to expand.

The label began life in 1994 as a single store on New York’s Lafayette Street catering to the local skater community, but soon became a global fashion cult, earning the label “Chanel of streetwear” and later support of private capital. Founder James Jebbia has proven adept at maintaining a delicate balance between street cred and corporate success, using an innovative business model based on tightly controlled “drops” to maintain a sense of exclusivity even as sales of the cool-yet-affordable Supreme grew.

VF has made clear its ambitions to continue scaling the label. Supreme opened stores in Milan and Berlin over the past year, adding to 12 existing locations in the US, Europe and Japan. VF Chief Executive Stephen Randle told analysts in October that the label “remains on track to become VF’s fifth billion-dollar brand in the coming years.” It is expected to contribute about $600 million in revenue to VF in fiscal 2022, the company said in its third-quarter results released in January.

Emory, who lives in Los Angeles, was born in Georgia, in the American South, but grew up in Jamaica, in the Queens borough of New York. While his appointment at the creative helm of Supreme catapults him to the top of the fashion industry, he is a well-known figure among a generation of creatives who have collectively rewritten the rules of what counts as high fashion. He co-founded the creative platform No Vacancy Inn, a hybrid music, fashion and nightlife collective that helped cement his reputation as a creative specialist, cultural provocateur and arbiter of taste.

He worked with the deceased Virgil Abloh and Ye, and jumped at the opportunity to tap into what he called fashion’s “cultural vein” to educate consumers about the black experience, or “soak them in the black gaze,” as he put it last year at BoF.

Denim Tears’ collaboration with blue jeans giant Levi’s explored the connection between cotton and America’s legacy of slavery. After the Black Lives Matter protests of the 2020s, the designer temporarily refused to release the Converse collaborationoutlining a number of conditions for parent company Nike to demonstrate that it is acting in support of the black community.

The designer has drawn parallels between Supreme and his brand in the past. “Supreme has released some really powerful stuff about what black people and other people in the world are going through, but mostly Denim Tears is like African American sportswear. Do you understand what I mean? So Supreme does every couple of seasons, they’ll do like Malcolm X whatever. My whole line is like that. And so I went out the gate. It’s just, I guess, the civic or cultural zeitgeist,” Emory told Esquire in 2020.

It also challenged the very notion of “streetwear,” a term that Supreme founder Jebbia had long resisted. Last week, Emory told The New York Times that “calling someone a ‘streetwear designer’ is a way of dismissing them.” As the creative director of one of America’s leading fashion labels, it will be hard for anyone to turn him down now.

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/workplace-talent/supreme-appoints-tremaine-emory-creative-director/ Supreme appoints Tremaine Emory as creative director

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