Soho is littered with hypebeasts every Thursday ready for the weekly Supreme drop. SHIFT examines why they do it
Supreme’s Soho spot is in danger of being shutdown. The achingly cool skateboard brand, which never fails to sellout, is a perpetual hype machine and the neighbours are getting fed up. Attracting a queue that snakes around the block every week ready for the Thursday release of the new collection, the streetwear mainstay has disgruntled locals and now threatens closure by the local council, according to Store Manager Dan Jagger.
So who exactly are the ‘Preme devout who gather en masse overnight every Wednesday ready for drop day? SHIFT took to Peter Street to find out.
It’s just starting to rain as the dawn streaks the sky, the line outside the store is wide and long, extending ’round the block and is six or seven wide in some places; although still surprisingly patient considering they’ve been waiting overnight. It’s predominately men, and they range in age from teenagers to grown men in their late twenties to early thirties.
“I’ve been camping since about six o’clock Wednesday, I came over straight from work and took my place. I don’t always get here so early but I’ve got extra cash to want to pack a big haul,” says Joel, a 22-year-old graphic designer from East London.
Getting people to talk to us isn’t easy. The scene is notoriously cliquey and there’s reportedly been recent troubles with security, exasperating the reticent nature of the crowd. “I tend to camp once a month or so, more if I know something particularly lit (sic) is dropping. I came down twice last month, for the first drop of the season and then again the week after for some Mark Gonzalez collab stuff,” continues Joel.
It’s not just Londoners who are venturing out to Soho at ungodly hours each and every Wednesday-come-Thursday either. Lukas, 19, has flown over from Berlin to shop Supreme. His closest store is the newly opened Paris locale, but “with the hype around it,” he felt he had more chance of “copping garms” in London. “This is the second time I’ve came (sic) to a drop in person. I used to buy from resellers and eBay but I love the buzz and atmosphere that’s around an in-store drop. It makes you feel more a part of the culture when you’re actually here, than if you’re just buying it on the internet.”
The teenage Lukas, who works in retail in his home city as well as studying at university, is by no means at the younger end of the spectrum queueing overnight at Supreme. 16-year-old Haru is a regular in the Supreme queue, lining up for every other release. “My parents know I camp, I don’t think they get it, but it hasn’t interfered with my grades and my brother [who’s 19] used to come with me so they know it’s safe.”
“I’m still in school, but I work on the weekends so I spend all of that money on clothes, mainly Supreme.” Haru elaborates on how he affords Supreme, where t-shirts can run around £50 and up with hoodies above and beyond £100.
“There’s definitely regulars, we spend the night chatting music or clothes, blazing a bit as well,” says ‘Lil Ricky’, a name we can only assume is a pseudonym, who has made a business out of selling Supreme clothing online: “I’m out here most weeks, I stock some and sell the rest of my bag. Not everyone can make it down so you’ve got to keep the people looking fresh, it’s a tidy earner.”
But why do they come back week after week, season after season?
“Supreme is the definition of hype. It is streetwear,” reckons Lukas, “Even when I couldn’t get down here, I still bought into that culture, I still wanted Supreme, it’s been going so long and hype hasn’t died yet.”
Lil Ricky sums it up: “People want what they can’t have. That’s why we out here lining up for it like it’s our last meal. I’m no different to that, but I recognise why I’m out here. If I’m not here, I don’t get it, simple as. I’ve made it into a business, by being here I’m getting paid but also chilling with my people. It’s a good time and it keeps me fed.”