My Brand Loves Your Brand

Louis Vuitton x Supreme, if you read the fashion press, is a mallet hammering down hierarchies between streetwear and high fashion. In a conversation held by the website Highsnobiety,1 ‘influencers’ from various outlets discuss its populism: ‘Two masters of branding have come together to… satisfy such a diverse group of customers.’ Its historicity: ‘It will become a reference point.’ Its subversion: ‘The old rules don’t apply anymore and this is the definitive proof.’ Dissenters, too, describe the collection as a meeting of worlds, concluding that the two vastly different collaborators overestimated their ability to merge. ‘Nothing is more lethal to cred than a sellout,’ writes the New York Times.2

It’s the same narrative typically generated by fashion collaborations: Can you believe X is working with Y? we ask, re: Juicy Couture and Vetements, Christopher Kane and Crocs, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Kangol. In 2017, the collaboration has become as common as the collection. It generates unfailing press, both critical and laudatory. In both scenarios, interest tends to hinge on the brands’ differences, on the inherent edginess of uniting them. In the case of Louis Vuitton and Supreme, the story is that the former brings to the table old-world prestige (and high prices), the latter irreverent youthfulness (and fans rabid enough to pay them).

Yet it’s worth asking: how different are Supreme and Louis Vuitton, actually? They are worn by the same celebrities.3 They are sold in the same shops.4 And they both communicate primarily through logos, reinforcing the notion pervasive of late that brands, even more than craft and design, create objects of desire.

Looks-wise, Louis Vuitton x Supreme is a copy-paste. Wallets, duffels and backpacks are virtually unchanged from their, in some cases, decades-old silhouettes; they’re spottable thanks to the word Supreme in limb-size font. Other pieces – skate decks, denim jackets, trunks – stamp the skate company’s logo atop the Louis Vuitton monogram, with the artistry of a teenager pasting an unrequested bumper sticker on his mum’s BMW. When Supreme knocked off Louis Vuitton in 2000, the results were more complex than this: those skate decks tweaked the century-old monogram, swapping out the LV for a dollar sign. Now, the two logos keep safe distance. If the old decks deconstructed logos, the new ones reinforce their sanctity.

Full article:

Image: A close-up of a trunk in the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection, which debuted during Paris Men’s Fashion week in January of 2017.


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