If you keep up with streetwear, and the conversation surrounding the brands and hype that drive the multi-billion-dollar industry, you’ve seen the discourse around Supreme and its relevance. The main question people have is whether or not it’s “dead.” However, the answer to that varies on who you ask.
This week’s sneaker review can respond to part of that question because the Supreme x Nike AF1, in white and black colorways, continues to sell out despite its minimal difference and price increase from the original pair. So perhaps a better question may be: Is Supreme still worth the hype?
Supreme first released their take on the Bruce Kilgore-designed Nike classic in March 2020 as part of their S/S 2020 collection and has continued to release them every season without warning. As stated above, the Supreme AF1s are the same as a standard pair with a foam midsole, perforations on the toe, and a rubber sole.
The only differences are a red Supreme box logo on the outside heel adjacent to the infamous Swoosh, co-branded lace locks, insoles, and sneaker box. The company even included extra Supreme logo branded shoelaces for those needing any additional distinction this go-round.
The Supreme x Nike AF1 formula reminds me of a Virgil Abloh principle he called the 3 percent rule. The rule states that you only need to innovate an existing product by 3 percent to create a new one. The result is a product that’s advanced, yet still acceptable, enough to satisfy curiosity while maintaining familiarity. In this case, it works. The sell-out success and rebranding of the Black Supreme AF1, once a pariah in the culture, speaks volumes to Supreme’s brand identity and positioning amongst streetwear brands.
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