james jebbia talks supreme paris
After 22 years of magic in London, Japan and Stateside, Supreme says bonjour to The City of Light.
"It's a natural progression to open a store in Paris," Supreme founder James Jebbia says of the brand's newest addition to its portfolio of stores in London, New York and Japan. "The fit is right, and like London, the people in Paris have been supporting the brand for years. We opened our first European store in London four years ago and it feels like the next step to have a presence in Paris."
By now, the legend of skate brand Supreme is well-documented. Starting life as a small storefront on New York's LaFayette Street in May 1994, it quickly became the home away from home for the skaters and scenesters that cruised the streets of New York's Soho neighbourhood. Success was instant and the wheels were set in motion (pun intended) for what we know Supreme to be today. A global symbol of skateboarding's effortless cool, Supreme stores are famous for their roadblock queues every time a new collection launches. It's a mania that far exceeds the most sought after of-the-moment handbag from high-end luxury labels. That's because the value of Supreme isn't measured in lofty price tags or celebrity endorsements, but in the genuine authenticity and unwavering support of the skate scene that buoyed it.
For its first French outpost, Supreme settled on a non-descript location on the Rue Barbette, nestled in the heart of Le Marais, a stone's throw away from La Perle bar, a hangout constantly swelling with young Parisian creatives and the scene of John Galliano's now infamous drunken tirade. "We wanted to be in Le Marais, the tricky part is that it's a pretty commercial shopping district and we wanted somewhere we could fit comfortably and be ourselves," James explains. "We found a quiet street with no other stores that's close to everything, a place where we can stay true to our identity."
An embodiment of the Supreme identity was also a deciding factor in the new store's staff, which is comprised of the city's local skating talent. "It's important for us to be connected to the local skate scene there," James continues. "We have an extension of our skate team in Paris, they're all cool kids who embody what we do as a brand." For the interior of the 1100 sq ft store, Supreme called on skateboarding legend and artists Mark "The Gonz" Gonzales to create sculptures for the store and collage artist Weirdo Dave worked on the store's window display. "It's an honest representation of Supreme," James continues. "Youthful, real, authentic yet world class." A video in honour of Supreme's entrance into The City of Light came in the form of Pussy Gangster, lensed by long-time Supreme collaborator William Strobeck, which sees Supreme's New York skate team cruise through pedestrian Paris streets, breaking into manuals and ollie-ing down stairs as they go.
Crowded into Bastille's Le Balajo, the opening party was a who's who of youth culture icons, past, present and future. Self-appointed Creative Director Ian Connor, designers Rick Owens, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Virgil Abloh mingled with Chloe Sevigny, Colette's Sarah Andelman, Pharrell Williams, Aaron Bondaroff and Supreme stalwarts Jason Dill and Angelo Baque, together with the new vanguard of Supreme's skate team (Sage Elsesser, Sean Pablo, Tyshawn Jones and Kevin Bradley) in what felt like an exciting new chapter in Supreme's history.
While others will spend their time scrupulously unpicking the fabric that makes Supreme one of the most sought after brands in the world, they continue to forge ahead with global domination in their sights. "Our attitude never really changes," James concludes. "We always wanna make cool stuff, we always want to push things forward, we'll always be a youth oriented brand and stay consistent and true with what we do." In those words, a timely reminder that being true to yourself reaps the biggest rewards.
Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Maxwell Tomlinson