Is it worth investing in: Supreme?
Matt Steiner and Christian Wong of Florida, USA, are perhaps not the types of entrepreneurs you’d expect to meet in a board room or an episode of the apprentice. They’re what might be referred to as unconventional, working from Stein’s mother’s dining room table and only working on a Thursday.
Recently featured in Wired, the pair run website SupremeSaint. If you google it and scroll through the website there’s a very good chance you’ll have no idea what they actually do without context provided beforehand.
It’s not difficult to see that the pair are involved with selling or re-selling apparel from streetwear specialists Supreme, who create skate clothing in very limited quantities. Not only skate clothing, though, they also produce insanely popular useless items like the now infamous rubber brick; originally retailing at $30 but selling online for well over $100.
Steiner and Wong, according to Wired, run a website that employs a bot which can purchase Supreme products quicker than anybody else, completing a purchase in a reported 19 seconds, compared to manual users who must individually punch in keys and click on the items they want.
Supreme are unique in that they only release limited amounts of new stock once a week, on a Thursday. Dedicated fans and savvy investors queue, sometimes for hours at a time, for the chance of getting their hands on as much merchandise as possible.
Wong and Steiner refused to tell Wired exactly how much they make, but charge in the region of $15 per person in order to get the chance at a quick purchase. Users must pay the fee and enter their debit or credit card details as well as the items they’d like to purchase and then the bot will buy the items on their behalf. The pair are thought to have made thousands.
For those of us not quite up to date with this seemingly insane popularity for skate wear, what’s the big deal?
Those with an obsession with collectors’ items such as trainers and sneakers, as well as street wear obsessives, love the brand. They seem to have perfected the art of limited supply. The store intentionally ensures that almost every product is sold out to never be repeated again. The t-shirts, once sold out, are almost impossible to get your hands on ever again.
Back to the Wired article, and to SupremeSaint, and they report that the breakthrough came within a couple of months, when Supreme released a version of Nike’s Air Jordan 5 sneakers. The shoes were offered in three colour options, what sneaker fans call colorways: white, black, and desert camo. That day Matt and Chris charged $100 for each pair a customer wanted to buy. One of the colors received around 200 orders, making the duo roughly $20,000 in five seconds.
There are only three ways to get hold of Supreme merchandise; through one of their stores, of which there are only ten in the world, through their web shop, of which is routinely hammered with traffic, or through a high-end boutique chain called Dover Street, which again only has a handful of stores.
If you don’t want to queue for hours, or spend hours online trying to purchase one item, then you’ll either have to use a bot like SupremeSaint, or pay potentially 10 times the retail price through a reseller.
Some examples of resale values for Supreme items are the bricks, which represented nearly a 400% return on investment, the Kate Moss anniversary tee, which sold for $30 and was re-sold for $1000 or, infamously, the Jeff Koons skateboard deck, which retailed at $180 and sold for $16,000.
In the world of ultra-exclusive streetwear fashion, there are opportunities to make vast amounts of money simply be re-selling clothing items well above their original value but the reality is that you’re extremely unlikely to ever get your hands on it.