When James Jebbia started Supreme back in 1994, nobody could have imagined what the New York City skate shop stationed at 274 Lafayette St. would become.
Perhaps the biggest leap Supreme has made occurred over the past two years. The hype culminated in 2017, when the brand was valued at an insane $1 billion by the Carlyle Group, and released a collaboration with storied French fashion house Louis Vuitton. One year later, Jebbia was crowned Menswear Designer of the Year at the 2018 CFDA Awards, an honor previously given to Raf Simons, Ralph Lauren, and Helmut Lang. Now, Supreme is more than just the biggest name in streetwear. It’s become one of the most recognizable names in fashion.
A brand with such a rich history and widespread popularity obviously has its fair share of collectors. While these impressive collections used to be ogled at on message boards and internet forums, they’re now being exhibited in galleries.
From Dec. 2 to Dec. 16, the Jason Vass Gallery in L.A. will host the “Inferno” exhibit, which will showcase owner of Laguna Beach boutique Consume Ryan Fuller’s complete collection of 248 Supreme skate decks (the first of its kind), as well as operator of Supreme resell site Bazamn Yukio Takahashi’s entire collection of 1,306 Supreme accessories (excluding the pinball machine)—both of which are estimated at a total value of over $2 million. The entire range has been authenticated by StockX and will be auctioned off. Ahead of the gallery opening, we got the chance to talk with Fuller and Takahashi about how they started collecting Supreme, their personal favorite pieces, the most they ever spent on a single item, and more.
What made you originally start collecting Supreme?
Fuller: I started collecting sneakers back in the ‘90s in high school. Sneakers and streetwear kind of go hand in hand. I had some friends who worked at Supreme. I really started collecting Supreme once they opened their store in L.A. in 2005. Before that, it was just sneakers for me.
Takahashi: I’m half Japanese. I like my weird trinkets. I don’t know how it really started. I just bought one thing and decided I needed every red accessory, not thinking I would ever finish. Sure enough, that ended. Then, I wanted every blue accessory, black accessory, and it snowballed into every accessory. My first items were given to me my freshman year of high school in 2004. I didn’t really start collecting until 2009, 2010. Then, I started going really heavy in 2012.
Have you gotten most of your stuff at retail or have you had to acquire it other ways?
Fuller: A lot of it I’ve gotten at retail. I didn’t start collecting decks until 2008. So, I had to backtrack and find the decks that released before 2008. I would get those from various collectors all over the world. It was a constant search for those. I just completed the collection last year.
Takahashi: Anything from 2012 to present, I’ve gotten online with the help of friends, especially when stuff comes out in multiple colors cause I can only order one. For the older stuff, I had to use my resources in Japan because they have a lot of stuff over there you won’t find in the states.
Do you have a personal favorite piece in your collection?
Fuller: My personal favorites are probably the George Condo set. I like his art.
Takahashi: I like the guitar, black Camacho doll, the hammer, and the punching bag. I use the hammer and the measuring tape a lot. Any of the tools I like. I have doubles and triples of a lot of stuff. The stuff I like, I keep extras so I can use them and mess them up. I love the frisbee. I have like six or seven of those, and my dog has probably gone through three of them.
What’s the most you’ve paid for a single item?
Fuller: By far, the official Louis Vuitton collab. That deck retailed at $56,000.
Takahashi: The punching bag was most expensive. I paid close to $10,000, which is a good deal compared to the auction in Paris where one sold for $24,000.
What made you decide to display your collections in a gallery?
Fuller: It’s something I’ve been wanting to do. There were only two decks I needed to complete my collection and it took me a year to find the last two. Once I had them all, I wanted to have them up on display somewhere because nobody has ever completed the entire collection. It was a goal of mine once I completed it to get them up on display at the gallery to show them.
Yukio is a buddy of mine. He helped me find a bunch of decks over the years. We became friends through the Supreme thing. I knew he had every accessory that Supreme had ever released. So, when things started to come together for the gallery I mentioned to Yukio that it would be cool to get all of his accessories on display too.
How were they displayed before?
Fuller: Yukio had a nice display in his house. I had all my decks just stored away in an extra room in my house, which is another reason why I wanted to get them up in a gallery. It’s huge. There’s so many decks that I couldn’t put them up on display at my house. They barely fit inside the gallery. I had a whole bedroom dedicated to skateboards at my house.
Has it gotten harder to get the newer releases because of the hype around Supreme now?
Fuller: I can’t even get the stuff anymore, man. It all sells out before I have a chance to get it. I rely on other people. At this point, I don’t care. I’ll grab it on the secondary market if I miss it and my friends at Supreme can’t grab it for me. I sleep in Thursday mornings and worry about that shit when I wake up, to be honest with you. I’ve had to pay triple retail to get some of the shit just because I wanted to sleep in.
Takahashi: I don’t go to the stores, personally. I just sit at home on my computer and have a very high success rate. I still buy stuff for Ryan cause he’s old and slow [laughs].
One of the more coveted sets is the recalled LV Monogram decks from 2000. How did you end up getting those? Was it tough to get the actual LV collab last year?
Fuller: Those were tough to get. I saw that a set that sold for $30,000 on eBay. I had two of the three [decks] before I saw that. Once that news came out, prices just went through the roof. People were asking $10,000 to $15,000 per deck. The very last one was tough. I had to search for quite some time to find it at a reasonable price. I had a friend in Japan who was able to help me with that.
The actual LV collab was a little easier for me to get. I’ve been shopping at Louis Vuitton for years. I’m a client and was able to pre-order it before it even released. I had that one secured from the get-go.
Any other interesting stories about how you got certain decks?
Fuller: I’ve had a few sets of the Kaws decks over the years. The ones I have now are actually signed by Kaws. I had a collector in Japan who was able to get those signed by Kaws back in 2001 when they dropped. I had two sets. I sold both just to get the signed ones. They pop up from time-to-time. It’s just a nice chunk of change to get those.
I got quite a few from Japan. I wouldn’t say most of them, but I definitely got a significant amount from Japan. Back in the day, it was a little easier to search. Maybe it was because there’s more Supreme stores and more collectors in Japan rather than people who skated them. Maybe that’s why there was an abundance.
Supreme is known for releasing obscure accessories. Has there ever been an item too obscure that you almost didn’t cop?
Takahashi: Most of the things they put out, I don’t personally like, but I’m a completionist and I want the whole collection. Are there any that were too weird? Nah. Supreme has always done whatever they wanted. Most of the time it is unusual or off putting at first, but you look at it later and it’s funny. Like the brick, I think the brick is hilarious.
Yukio, the one Supreme accessory you don’t own is the pinball machine. Why? Do you ever plan on getting it?
Takahashi: I’m in a big fight with American Express over that. They declined the purchase. I called them the morning of and I asked them to OK a purchase of $11,000. They said yes. Moments later, I go to check out and my card got declined. They sabotaged me.