Driven by China’s booming hip-hop trend, counterfeiters have gone to extreme lengths to cash in on the popularity of U.S. streetwear brand Supreme. This week saw an entire fake Supreme store open in the city of Shenzhen, with the news going viral on Chinese social media.
The knock-off store only sells hoodies at the moment, marked at $130 (880 RMB). This price is higher than the usual cost of counterfeit Supreme goods – that can go for as low as $20 (135RMB) – but still less than Supreme’s official retail price of $148 (1000RMB). At streetwear trading platform StockX, a Supreme Box Logo white hoodie now sells for $1750 (11,845RMB). According to a customer who visited the store, it will begin to offer more products in the coming weeks.
As for the design of the store, it’s easy to mistake it for the real deal, with the logo, interior design, and product almost identical to those found inside an official Supreme retailer. The only difference is a small graphic on the upper right corner of the logo that reads “NYC”, presumably as a way of avoiding a trademark lawsuit.
According to legal experts, however, the placement of the phrase “NYC” would have no bearing on whether a trademark claim could be made.
“Did Supreme register a trademark and logo in China? If not, they have no rights. Period. None.” explains Steve Dickinson, Attorney of Harris Bricken.
“If they did register, then the rule is the same as in the U.S. Note that NYC cannot be part of any trademark, since it designates a city. So NYC cannot be used to differentiate one trademark against another. So the only mark in question is “Supreme”. If that mark was properly registered by Supreme in China, then the use of that mark by another entity in the same business is an infringement. In that case, Supreme is required to file an infringement claim.”
“However, if Supreme has not registered a trademark in China, or if the other entity registered the trademark first, then Supreme is out of luck,” Dickinson said.
So, to prevent merchants taking further advantage of the Supreme name, it seems there’s nothing the brand can do without registering in China. Nonetheless, Chinese netizens are skeptical as to whether the store will be able to remain open.
“They opened an entire store? Can the counterfeiters really avoid a lawsuit from Supreme?” said Weibo user Dangxu. Some are worried the store will encourage China’s already prominent counterfeit culture, “This is not a good beginning,” said user Liuzaker.
It’s possible the store will survive longer than most underground counterfeit stands – located in a busy commercial street in Shenzhen, the store has a permanent spot next to many fashion retail stores like Zara, UNIQLO, and Paul Frank.
The news comes as sneakerheads around the world continue to laugh at last month’s Supreme counterfeit fiasco – the story of a Chinese label hiring an actor to play the role of Supreme CEO, and fake the American brand’s launch in China.
This is not the first time high-end streetwear has encountered entire knock-off stores in China. A Yeezy store opened in Wenzhou last year, however, according to the owner, the store sells “Chinese Yeezy” not Yeezy by Adidas. The Chinese Yeezy store also now distributes on JD.com.