Fashionably late? Supreme opens first China store in Shanghai

On 23 March, more than 3 months after the hoarding went up on Fumin Road, Shanghai, Supreme finally opened the doors to its first store in China. The opening was a reservation-only affair that needed lot-drawing on its dedicated WeChat Mini Program. Before the opening, much of the discourse was around whether the brand was too late to the game in China, if the brand had missed its peak and if people still cared about Supreme.

Well, the people do in fact still care. The opening saw not only all the lots on the Mini Program be drawn but there were also long queues at the door. All stock available on the Mini Program were sold out almost instantly too. However, it needs to be said that several lots were drawn by resellers who came here for the exclusive merch from the opening, but so were those camping outside, hoping to get in after failing to draw the lucky lot. Apart from resellers, another problem is that the prices at the Supreme Shanghai store remain the highest in the world, a third higher than in Japan.

The new 1,022 sqm Shanghai location is the American streetwear giant’s 17th shop in the world and one of its largest. Its stores in Asia are closing in on the Western ones, with 6 shops in Japan. Supreme entered China in 2020 after a trademark dispute in 2019. In 2022, the brand opened a concession in Dover Street Market Beijing, the only official channel of the brand in China for a time. VF, the parent company of Supreme was reported to be contemplating selling the brand after it saw less than stellar results last year.

According to an interview with the street label’s team in China, the lateness was due to both the trademark dispute and the pandemic. To the brand, as the current hype around international streetwear brands recedes and consumers turn to outdoor brands, it is time for them to continue to build their community, among skaters and people “from the street”. With street fashion falling stagnant with the likes of Off-White and HUMAN MADE trailing behind, Supreme see this as the new normal. Still working on the “newness” the brand is known for, how it fares in China amid the headwind is worth watching.


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