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Jonathan Epstein is a 23-year-old living in Montclair, New Jersey who works at a non-profit in Harlem. Below, he speaks with writer Kyle Chayka about his love of Supreme.
There was this kid in town a few years younger than me who was crazy into Supreme. I had seen that kid walking around with the Supreme Veritas sweater. He had the heather green one; I got the one in blue. I went online and mulled it over for a week and then bought it. My mom was like, ‘What are you doing spending $118 on a sweater?' I was like, ‘I don't really know.'
Supreme allowed me to curate my appearance at a time when I really didn't feel like I could control much in my life. It's not like you're wearing your sports team, but you feel some allegiance to this brand. It's not high fashion. It's some weird pseudo in between that and just clothes. Supreme has a fuck-you attitude about it that I don't quite embody, but would like to be more like.
I'd be considered a pretty casual Supreme collector compared to the people who have to have everything. For me, it was always just fun to have these things that I didn't see other people with. I'm a white Jewish kid from New Jersey. It's cool to have things to talk about with people that are not of your same background, and lots of people are interested in streetwear.
There's a Supreme sticker on my mom's minivan, an '01 Toyota Sienna. It's a box logo sticker, but it wasn't the red-and-white one, it was just silver letters that came off a clear sticker. I put it on the back and put an actual box sticker underneath it. I just thought it would be funny. My friends would call it the S.S. Supreme.
I camped out for Supreme a couple times when I was in high school. The store was in New York, it was a destination for us. It was before we drank or anything. We would save our money and go buy sneakers. It's kind of wack to call it a fashion show, but all these dudes, I don't know how to explain it — New York guys, teenagers to early 30s, a mix of every nationality, guys smoking weed on line, people's moms camping out with them.
Senior year in early February, it was really gross, sleeting out, and we drove up to the train station in New Jersey and smoked a big joint. We left Montclair on the first train, so maybe 4:30, 5, got there 5:30 or 6, and then waited out there till 2 or 3, a long time. We brought chairs and were sitting out in the cold waiting. The KAWS box logo dropped. It was just mayhem. When we got in, I grabbed a T-shirt, hoodie, maybe a hat. Some guy was standing outside, he said, ‘I'll give you $60 for that T-shirt.' I was like, ‘Nah, I just waited in line for this shit!'
When I walked out, I realized they threw the sweatshirt in without ringing it up. The guys at the store, they're rude, they're not helpful — no returns. I always liked that. It's that New York aesthetic of people who don't really give a shit.
Supreme is mainstream now, but it's not like there's more of it out there. They were one of the pioneers of scarcity in streetwear. It was cool that stuff was hard to get. You had to know where to go and look for things. It wasn't so pedestrian, I guess.
The hype sort of killed it. Back then it was kids from the internet or kids who were skaters, and then it became everybody. I have a green Supreme hat that's ubiquitous because of Tyler the Creator. There's no way of knowing that I was into it before all those new kids.
It's become less fun now. I'm older. Some of the novelty has worn off, but I still get the alert for it on my phone when they drop every Thursday at 11. I'll look at it, maybe, and stuff will already be sold out. I don't really want to spend my money on this right now. I bought a bunch of shoes and still haven't worn them.