What would a Supreme collaboration be if it didn’t provoke some sort of controversy? It seems as though the storied NYC skate brand can’t so much as even introduce a new textile pattern without expelling forth a flurry of criticism on social media and blog forums from fans and haters, but this reaction is perhaps most pointedly commonplace whenever the brand decides to release a collection in collaboration with an artist.
Black Sabbath. Morrissey. Capone-N-Noreaga. Neil Young. John Coltrane. Siouxsie Soux. Supreme’s partnerships with musical icons is ever-eclectic and there never seems to be a rhyme nor reason, at least at face value, as to how or why they came about – the only thing that’s certain is that they’re a sure-fire “hype” drop from the moment that press release slides through your inbox.
The root of all debate when it comes to Supreme’s artist collaborations seems to stem from a place of authenticity. Are they actually fans of the music? Is it all just a gimmick? More often than not, the product does in fact result from genuine interest, but the frivolous way in which the brand’s massive fanbase (not all, obviously) boasts these collaborations makes clearing up the thick smog of cynicism difficult. Not to mention, this current vintage band T-shirt trend that’s infiltrated mainstream consumers isn’t helping either.
As you already know, the latest member added to Supreme’s expansive musical roster is West Coast thrash metal band Slayer, and, unsurprisingly, the opinions on the impending release have been soaring through the blogosphere louder than Jeff Hanneman’s riff in ” Raining Blood.”
We all know that the sidewalks of Supreme’s perimeters will be swarming with legions of streetwear aficionados once the collection drops, but what’s truly curious is how many of these fanboys will be actual Slayer fans (but let’s be real, we all know it’s going to mimic this scenario …again).
I reached out to some fellow metalheads to see what they think about the collection, if they’ll be copping and whether or not non-Slayer fans should be allowed to wear the gear – though if you haven’t listened to Reign in Blood yet, what the hell are you waiting for?
How long have you been a Slayer fan?
Mikhail Bortnik, Mishka NYC Founder: I came upon Slayer the same time I did on all thrash metal as a whole, when I was about 11 or 12. They’re probably my least favorite out of the Big Four (Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer), but I liked them as I did almost any thrash I was exposed to at the time. I think I felt that way because their music felt the least melodic to me at that age. I don’t think that anymore, however.
Alex James, PLEASURES Founder: I first got introduced to Slayer in fifth grade. I used to hang and skate with the older kids and they put me on.
Ray Smiling, Creative Director: Since roughly 1993-94, when one of my friends gave me Decade of Aggression, and I damn near shit myself.
Leigh Barton, Slayer Fan: Oh man. I made the transition from pop punk to punk, hardcore and metal at some point during high school, but got more into thrash metal specifically over the past six years.
Luca Amarca, Slayer fan/My Brother: I’ve been a Slayer fan since I was about 13 years old. I’m now 22.
Will you be copping the collection?
Mikhail Bortnik: No, I won’t. But not because I have an issue with it.
Alex James: I am on the fence about it. Although it was tastefully done, PLEASURES had run some smarter plays on Slayer concepts already.
Ray Smiling: There are a couple of pieces I fuck with, the sorta digital type pullover and a few of the T-shirts are alright.
Leigh Barton: Probably not, unless the plug comes through…although I do work on the same street as the shop so maybe if I have some free time. Normally I just roll my eyes at the people standing in line, so yeah probably not.
Luca Amarca: I think I might cop the South of Heaven shirt; I love that album and the cover is simply a masterpiece.
How does it compare to official Slayer merch?
Mikhail Bortnik: I don’t really know off-hand what Slayer’s merch situation currently is, but I imagine that since they’re A) a metal band and B) one of the biggest metal bands ever, that it is pretty vast and varied. Quickly looking at this new collection, it looks like a lot of it centers around Slayer’s most iconic graphics repurposed for pieces.
The pieces look clean, like they could just be regular Slayer merch, but at the same time they kinda don’t. Supreme executes things a certain way and I think hugging that exact line for these sorts of projects is part of it.
Alex James: Supreme has a good group of designers who actually know this culture. Sadly, you can never recreate an original but only make it your own.
Ray Smiling: The collection is OK, nothing egregiously awful. That said, nothing in this collection is jaw-dropping either. They just took the most well-known Slayer imagery and slapped it on shirts.
Leigh Barton: There’s an official Slayer merch camo hat. Unbeatable. Also, I bought one of my exes some vintage Slayer sweatpants that looked way doper than the new ones, but unfortunately I lost them in the divorce so would settle for the new, less cool-looking version.
Luca Amarca: I think that Supreme did a very good job! The camo jacket is on fleek! The sweatshirts are awesome as well. Huge props to Supreme!
Do you think the collaboration is coming from a place of authenticity? Or is Supreme just trolling everyone?
Mikhail Bortnik: I think it’s genuine. Supreme’s roots are in skate. Skate and thrash go hand in hand – at least to me. The Morrissey thing or rather his very Morrissey reaction to it after the fact was the only time I thought there might have been some trolling going on. But alas, there wasn’t.
Alex James: No trolling here. These guys know the deal. The people who buy it don’t and that really sucks.
Ray Smiling: Supreme dudes know Slayer. But the collection is lazily executed. I’d expect more from Supreme.
Leigh Barton: You really never know with Supreme. They set the industry standard in terms of marketing and really just never have to try. I really can’t imagine a company that put out a BRICK cares enough to be authentically supporting a metal band, but also sometimes people who love to troll have good taste. Like myself.
Luca Amarca: Well, Supreme’s Black Sabbath line came out very good in my opinion. The jersey is on point! I like when metal gets some appreciation from a well-respected brand like Supreme. I do encourage more collaborations like this because it shows off the metal community to a broader audience and I personally like Supreme a lot.
What would you say to non-Slayer fans who will undoubtedly be purchasing the collection simply for the “hype” or because they think it looks cool?
Mikhail Bortnik: Start somewhere between Reign in Blood and Seasons In the Abyss. Maybe during a snowstorm?
Alex James: They buy it cause they are brainwashed by Supreme. Most had to Google to see what Slayer even was.
Ray Smiling: Listen. To. SLAYER!!!!
Leigh Barton: I mean, that’s just like…most of the people who will be showing up that day. It’s kind of whack, but maybe it will also get them interested in something they didn’t know about otherwise. I saw the lines the day the Morrissey pieces came out and literally HEARD people saying they had no idea who he was.
Luca Amarca: Ok, this is where I get a little bit iffy. I listen to about 90% metal and I’ve been to dozens of shows, including Slayer which was last year. If you don’t listen to the music, I believe you should NOT be wearing the shirts. I don’t listen to Nickelback, so why would I ever wear a shirt from them? But of course this is coming from a diehard metalhead.
What are your thoughts on this “metal trend” currently occurring in fashion?
Mikhail Bortnik: It sucks that the average price of getting a vintage tee has jumped because of it, but most of the stuff going really haywire is with bands and tees that are kinda not in short supply in regards to vintage tees. I find that funny.
If it is making anyone discover music that they previously didn’t know anything about, I can’t hate. Here were plenty of bands I wanted to learn about as a kid because I thought their tees looked cool. In high school, I used to study this mail order catalog called Tough Go to decide what bands to check out based on which graphic tee I liked the most. This [current trend] isn’t all that different. People get to things in their own way. As long as they get there and genuinely appreciate the music, it’s copacetic with me.
Alex James: For me and PLEASURES, metal is not a trend. This is a scene that raised me and will stay within my blood forever. Culture vultures everywhere will hop on anything depending on who makes it or who is wearing it.
Ray Smiling: Mainstream fashion devours everything and every aesthetic over a long enough timeline. This shit ain’t new. I give a fuck about Rhianna wearing a metal-inspired shirt for the next 6 months. When she drops a fire collab with Lustre, I’ll be interested. Also, how HM beat Supreme to Slayer shit?
Leigh Barton: I’m annoyed because I’ve been more interested in collecting vintage metal shirts specifically over the past few years and the prices have gone up EXPONENTIALLY. Even bands that are not as widely known/supported went from being $20 at every secondhand shop to $85 minimum, with more recognizable bands and older shirts going for at least $200.
It’s also frustrating because as a female, it’s assumed that I don’t know shit about metal and am just hopping on a style bandwagon. Metal is not exactly the most pro-feminist scene, and tends to be very exclusive, like if you don’t look metal 24/7, you’re not, and it’s just like…it’s music, get over it. So again, if it gets more people paying attention, cool. If it’s just to look “cool” without any further exploration of the genre…wack.
Luca Amarca: If you’re not metal, don’t try to copy metal music imagery. There’s a reason why metal music has that provocative imagery – it’s extreme music for extreme people, as Abbath from Immortal would say. I don’t think it’s “cool” when pop stars try to copy metal imagery and such.
If you HAD to buy a piece from the collection, which one would it be?
Mikhail Bortnik: I dig that one with the photo of them from I imagine is Show No Mercy-era Slayer. The grey camo M-65 is cool,too. Reminds me of the PTV3 one [for Mishka] I did.
Alex James: The sweatpants are killer.
Ray Smiling: That 8-bit pullover is clutch.
Leigh Barton: Not gonna lie, I would love to cop the white long-sleeve with the matching sweatpants because I love a head-to-toe white fit. Maybe I should linger all the fuccbois I roll my eyes at as I sip my draft latte from La Colombe and get one of them to buy it for me.
Luca Amarca: Either the red South of Heaven T-shirt, the black sweatshirt with the band logos on the side or the camo jacket. The whole collection looks awesome.