Armed With A New Trademark, What Will Supreme’s Next Move Be In China?

What Happened:

Supreme, the cult streetwear brand that’s synonymous with hype marketing, secured another Chinese trademark under “Supreme New York” this week after gaining a grip on “Supreme” this January. The trademarks allow the brand to exclusively distribute and sell products in China, a quickly-growing luxury and streetwear market.

The trademark that covers categories like clothes, shirts, and hats, came into effect on January 21, according to an announcement from China’s Trademark Office that was first reported by WWD. This trademark is effective for 10 years through January of 2030. In the meantime, Supreme’s intellectual property owner, Chapter Four Corp., filed other petitions that are subject to re-appeal or have been preliminarily approved. If there aren’t any public objections over the next few months, Supreme will obtain more rights to sell and distribute products under the categories such as whistles, magnets, and even urns, according to public documents. 

The announcement made by China’s Trademark Office in January grants Supreme the rights to sell and distribute products such as clothing, shirts and hats until 2030. Photo: China’s Trademark Office

While currently operating 12 locations around the world (six in Japan), would Supreme’s next move be to branch into different consumer goods? Or will it choose to open its first store in Shanghai where its copycat company, Supreme Italia, just closed its doors? Whatever the case, Chinese consumers should expect the same long lines for the brand’s infamous product drops.

Jing Take:

Although the brand hasn’t announced what this new trademark might mean for its China business, the company’s main stakeholder, the US-based private equity firm Carlyle Group, might already be making plans. The firm, which has over $200 billion under management, bought 50 percent of the company’s controlling stock for $500 million in October of 2017, according to WWD


Other than clothes, Supreme is also known for making out-of-the-box products like this pair of $515 bolt cutters. With the possibilities brought by new trademarks, will it come up with similar products for China? Photo: Farfetch

PE firms are known to be the type of investors that want to make money off fast turnarounds, so based on the firm’s history of how it has handled the fashion companies in its portfolio, Carlyle is unlikely to wait much longer. Back in 2008, it bought a 48-percent stake in the high-end Italian sportswear brand Moncler and started selling most of its shares in 2011, before pulling out completely in June of 2014. With Italian luxury brand Golden Goose, Carlyle began looking for buyers after just two years, when the hype around the brand’s sneakers started to dissipate. Given this, we should hear news about Supreme’s China location or China-specific products very soon.

The Jing Take reports on a leading piece of news while presenting our editorial team’s analysis of its key implications for the luxury industry. In this recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debates that sprout up on Chinese social media.


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