Reselling Supreme can make you a millionaire by retirement age (https://www.wealthsimple.com/en-ca/magazine/data-supreme). Reselling is a curious phenomenon trading on the concept of fandom. Here is Margaret Thatcher’s beloved Aquascutum very cleverly recombined:
Fandom is veneration of a person or brand and in this case linked to refinement in a direct way. Supreme has made itself a cult fashion house by taking a simple object — a brick or t-shirt — and putting its name on it. Supreme has also collaborated with Louis Vuitton, and other august names, but the strategy is always the same. Refine with a label, wearily price fandom, and profit through scarcity: reselling raises the price, which the company takes not as dollars initially, but prestige; the cult is fuelled and money pours in.
Making its product scarce has led the more ingenious amongst fans to build purchase bots which take orders from fans and then flood Supreme’s website in milliseconds of a product release to ensure purchase (https://www.wired.com/2017/05/using-bots-to-buy-supreme-limited-edition-streetwear/). Many then immediately sell-on their purchases to friends at a higher price. This also happens in streets around the physical shops: the queue of fans outside the shop, instead of always waiting to get into the shop, buy the goods they venerate at the “street” and “true” value. Mrs. Thatcher would approve.
This variant of veneration and refinement is quite brilliant. Something also Huizinga would predict: the play motif is uppermost. I apply Huizinga’s model to fashion at V&R Chapter 6, but like all games there is a playing field: the company website that the bots probe, the myriad thoroughfares of modern industrial nations, and the streets right around the shops. The label of the brand is everything and picks up on the dress-up quality of play. Supreme began as a skater clothing brand and, organically linked to sneakers with their origin in shoes for small boys and sports, picks up on the cavorting of youth. Wearing the red label also captures nicely the wearing of team colours, the us and not them antagonism of the phratria.
With the purchase bots there is a constant game of cat and mouse as Supreme tweaks the code on the backend of the site for billing. The makers of the bots have to sneak in and learn those code changes. There is also one of the great signatures of playing: the wearing of masks. Resellers usually want their faces obscured in news articles as they do not want to be known as resellers to Supreme who might ban them from the shops. They do not want to end up out of bounds. Certainly, some of the products have a Baroque quality — an especially ludic period of history, argues Huizinga — as attested by the Louis Vuitton collaboration: