Storefront: Supreme LA
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, June 2010
Since first opening its doors in New York City in 1994, Supreme has never had a problem being cool. Seriously … the name is cool; the logo is cool; the location is cool; they’ve always been affiliated with cool people and cool brands. In fact, Supreme was so cool right out of the gate that they pretty much set a new standard in skateboarding retail and became a direct influence for so many of the “skateboard boutiques” and skate shop/skate brand collaborations that have become so commonplace today.
But Supreme is more than just cool and more than just retail—always has been. With five shops in Japan and a location in Los Angeles that opened in September 2004—a decade after the NYC store, the shop has become a brand and the brand has become a vibe. Or maybe the vibe became a shop and the shop became a brand—actually, come to think of it, any combination of those three elements in any order is almost applicable.
“We don’t have a team,” say Curtis Buchanan, Buyer and Manager for Supreme LA. “It’s more of a neighborhood vibe—a community of skaters who we support and they support us. We hook up pros and friends around Los Angeles like Eric Koston, Alex Olson, Spanky, Braydon, A.V.E., Dill, Neckface and Atiba and Ako Jefferson.”
The decision to open in Los Angeles almost six years ago was pretty much a no-brainer for Supreme. “Los Angeles seems to be the skateboard capital,” says Buchanan. “The time felt right and we wanted to offer something that wasn’t currently available but without stepping on other local skate shops’ toes.”
Other than the vibe, what separates Supreme from the rest of the pack (and keeps them consistently ahead of the pack) is somewhat shrouded in secrecy. Often imitated but never quite duplicated, the crew over there is a bit tight-lipped about what makes Supreme tick … but then again … isn’t that mystery and elusiveness part of what makes ‘em so cool? A few things we do know, however, are that Supreme has a bowl in the shop for the homies to session, hosts poker nights every now and again and produces their own line of clothing, which, to no one’s surprise, is quite successful.
“Supreme was the first store to do what we do,” says Buchanan. “We never imitate or flip to a trend. We have a loyal skate clientele who love new product and we just try to sell and make cool stuff consistently.”
But even Supreme isn’t invincible. They have their challenges like anyone else. “There are tons of pro skaters in Los Angeles, so it’s easy for kids to get product from them and avoid buying from shops at full price,” says Buchanan, “but consistently providing and making a good product helps, so thanks to Girl, Chocolate and DLX for all the rad shit they make.”
Put simply, according to Buchanan, Supreme’s goal has always been, and always will be, to support skateboarding.
“You get out of life what you put into it,” he says. “Everyone runs a business differently and there are many paths to success. You gotta learn from your own mistakes. Don’t open a shop unless you truly love skateboarding and are willing to accept the good with the bad.”
Supreme Los Angeles
439 North Faifax Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90038