A man in sunglasses and a denim jacket with the word Supreme and a sad emoji face overlaid in white text.
19 Nov
A man in sunglasses and a denim jacket with the word Supreme and a sad emoji face overlaid in white text.

How Ethical Is Supreme?

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Despite its popularity as an exclusive streetwear brand, Supreme rates “We Avoid” for its lack of transparency. This article is based on the Supreme rating published in October 2020.

Elusive streetwear by Supreme

April 1994, a new store opens its doors on Lafayette Street, downtown Manhattan: Supreme is born. Over 24 years, Supreme has grown to embody downtown culture. Working with generations of artists from various backgrounds, Supreme has established itself as an institution, known for its quality, style, and authenticity.

Despite its global influence, Supreme remains very exclusive, with only 10 stores worldwide, 6 of which are in Japan. Thanks to its numerous collaborations, with brands such as Nike, the North Face, Comme des Garcons as well as artists like Richard Prince, John Baldessari, and Jeff Koons, the brand gathers thousands of devoted fans. They patiently queue in front of Supreme stores in order to get their hands on the coveted products during the brand’s weekly “drops”.  The label also has a large online following, boasting an impressive community of users that discuss, buy, and resell Supreme product on SupTalk, a popular Facebook page for Europe’s Supreme fans, which has over 60,000 members.

The brand does have a clear influence and play a crucial role in the constant renewal of streetwear culture, but how does it impact the Planet, People and Animals? How ethical is Supreme?

A supreme lack of action

Unfortunately, Supreme does not provide sufficient information about reducing its impact, which is why it rates “Very Poor” on environmental impact, labour conditions, and animal welfare.

As consumers, we have the right to know how the products we buy (and queue for hours to get) affect the issues we care about. Because Supreme is very opaque, we gave the brand the overall rating “We Avoid”.

To have a better rating, Supreme could start disclosing more information about how, where, and by whom its items are produced, as well as the materials used.

Transparency is crucial to ethical and sustainable fashion and is the first step towards reducing a business’ impact on people, the planet, and animals.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the company’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

If you’re a streetwear fan, fear not, we have found some “Good” and “Great” alternatives to Supreme so you can look cool while doing good. Bonus point: you won’t even have to queue for hours to get them.

Good swaps

“Good and “Great” alternatives to Supreme

Finisterre

Rated: Good
A woman wears a grey winter coat on one side and a green patterned dress on the other.

Born from the needs of hardy British surfers, Finisterre is a pioneering, sustainable outdoor brand, built to inspire a love of the sea and anchored in exceptional products.

See the rating.

Shop Finisterre.

Nudie Jeans

Rated: Great

Nudie Jeans designs 100% organic cotton denim and is transparent about its production. The brand also offers a free repair service, resells second hand products, and even recycles worn out items! Find the perfect fit with the Virtual Size Guide on the product pages.

See the rating.

Shop Nudie Jeans.

Shop Nudie Jeans @ Farfetch.

Shop Nudie Jeans Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Outerknown

Rated: Good

Founded by surf champion Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a sustainable brand that aims to blend style and function with the protection of natural resources. The brand is Bluesign certified and has partnered with the Fair Labour Association.

Find the range in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Outerknown.

Shop Outerknown @ Wearwell.

Shop Outerknown @ Good.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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