The War on Sportswear: Louis Vuitton x Supreme

Back in January of 2017, rumours began to circulate about the collaboration of two of the most powerful brands – Louis Vuitton x Supreme. Many thought these rumours were far-fetched, recalling the Cease and Desist letter filed by Louis Vuitton for Supreme’s 2000 LV “inspired” products. Supreme ended up having to recall the entire collection, which made many question the likelihood of a friendly collaboration between the brands. Naysayers aside, the collaboration was confirmed with the debut of the collection during Paris Fashion Week this past March.

Since then, both price lists and rumoured pop-up store locations have been leaked. Price lists dropped in mid-Feb and for the vast majority of us plebeians it looks like these items are more aspirational than achievable. Prices range from around $300 for a bag charm to a cool $68,500 USD for the signature trunk. Granted, the trunk is the gist of the whole collection because it represents the consolidation of each brand’s rudimentary insignia: Supreme’s red bogo and LV’s iconic monogram leather trunk.

supreme-louis-vuitton-prices-01-1200x800.jpgIf you do happen to have a spare $70,000 grand kicking around you can expect the collection to be in all LV stores by July 17th. However, there are three unconfirmed simultaneous pop-up stores, which may open on June 30th in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. For us in Canada, we can expect to see the collection in stores on July 14th. Although, the only Canadian LV store rumoured to be carrying the collection is in Vancouver. All of these release dates still remain unofficial, with no comment from either brand.

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Reviews about the collection from fashion editors have been mostly neutral or negative. The collection has been described by fashion’s elite as “balls-out obnoxious,” “murder suicide,” and “low-hanging fruit.” Fashion editors are mostly irritated with the lack of creativity that the collaboration presented as they did exactly what everyone expected; slapped their oversized emblems on everything and charged exorbitant prices. The harsh criticisms are not enough to discount the potential success of the collection though, as the collection’s intention was never to appease fashion critics. Rather, the collection was intended for the cult of die-hard supporters of the brands.

Long-time supporters of Supreme have also shown their dismay saying they feel “exploited” and called the collection a “betrayal.” They’re not necessarily wrong, as Supreme’s success is a result of their refusal to sell out. Instead of focusing on rapid business expansion, they release limited collections and charge relatively affordable prices. This model ensures enough profits to cover baseline costs for the company. Supreme was a cornerstone of non-conformity, adopted by a community of counter-cultural skateboarders and underground rappers.

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Regardless of the disdainful criticisms from both fashion critics and brand supporters, the collections dismissal from both sides contributes to a developing issue in the fashion world. The collection is one of many that has deepened the chasm between streetwear and high fashion. Supreme x Louis Vuitton elevated streetwear to high fashion. The two worlds are now in a codependent relationship, however, critics of each side behave like the other is parasitic. Editors differentiate sportswear-influenced designer collections as exclusive “luxury sportswear”, while streetwear bloggers claim “cultural appropriation” on the runways. Collaborations like Lanvin x H&M, Proenza Schouler x Target and Comme des Garçons x Nike, are all examples of collections that set the stage for the backlash that the LV x Supreme collection is facing. Regardless of whatever side of the argument you lie on, it is clear that the collection is the grenade in a waging sportswear war.

Check out the full collection here:

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