Plagiarism. It’s a word we know all too well. If you’re in college, the word is a threat and a promise held over your head with the warning of suspension or expulsion. However, is “plagiarism” ok when it’s a clothing brand? Hypebeast caught up with the man that runs the “@supreme_copies” Instagram account that shows and writes about the Supreme brands “imitative inspirations.”
The Supreme brand, which is sometimes shortened to ‘Preme, was founded in 1994. However, it’s popularity didn’t really explode until about 2012. The brand’s known for its iconic symbol of white lettering surrounded by a red box. However, Supreme isn’t just slapping that icon on different clothing and selling it. Instead, it’s branched out to taking images from the likes of movie posters, album covers, and even a retro Brillo pads box. The man behind the Instagram account, who stayed anonymous for his interview with Hypebeast, began making the connections of the clothing brand’s images. He uses his Instagram account to show the connections to the world. Through his own research and follower submissions, he’s able to write in-depth descriptions of where the particular pieces of clothing came from. The account has over 56,000 followers and that isn’t the end of it. The man behind all of this is creating a book. The book, names Supreme Copies just like the Instagram account, is set to roll out in May. The book will be a lot like the Instagram page, but with a special interview section included in the end. “Full-color pages, every page. Matte-printed roughly 120 pages (for issues stated above on legality, as well as costs). Foreword in the first couple pages explaining the brand, the book, etc. The left page will show reference pictures, short descriptions. Right page shows Supreme piece (not stock image) and a short description,” describes the author in his interview. And while he’s definitely worked hard on this book, the question remains—is Supreme plagiarizing?
This author says no. In his interview, he states that clothing is art. He even quotes Picasso, who said, “good artist copy, great artists steal.” In my opinion, I think Supreme is doing something pretty cool. They are basing their brand off of things that people might not know about. And the Instagram account and book shed light and background on these things. There’s something unique about this branding, even though it’s a copy. I think that as long as credit is given where it’s due, Supreme’s imitative branding is working for them.
Read the Hypebeast interview with the Instagram account holder and author here.