Ross Sells His Unique Supreme Collection | Grailify
Ross Sells His Unique Supreme Collection

Ross Sells His Unique Supreme Collection

Supreme's diverse fan base is made up of all kinds of people, from OG skaters and true fans to celebrities, hypebeasts and resellers. And then there's the rare breed of people who have remained loyal to the brand since its beginnings as a one-door skate shop on Lafayette Street in New York City. One of them is British DJ, freelance writer and brand consultant Ross Wilson. In 1994, he discovered Supreme on a trip to New York City when he visited the original shop in Manhattan. In the more than two decades since, he has not only befriended the label's inner circle, but also built an impressive Supreme collection of more than 1,000 pieces, all bought at original retailers.
Now it's time for Ross to open up his archive to the world. Together with UK retailer The Idle Man, he will be hosting both an exhibition and a sales event. To mark the launch of Wilson's Vaults on February 1st 2018, we had the opportunity to speak to Ross about Supreme's beginnings, the current hype around the brand and his partnership with The Idle Man.

What made you get interested in Supreme the way you did? Was it more the brand itself and its place in 90s skate culture, or did the actual products have a bigger influence on it?
I originally came to Supreme through skateboarding. Apart from a small skate section at Paragon Sports, it was the only skate shop I could find in Manhattan when I first visited New York in 1994. The shop was unlike any other skate shop I had been to in the UK and had a real clubhouse atmosphere - the music was loud and eclectic, the street outside was wide and flat so ideal for skating, and the people were all very relaxed. I originally just bought one of their shop t-shirts as a souvenir of my trip and to show support for the new shop - I was definitely more interested in the atmosphere of the downtown skate scene than the actual products, which were the biggest draw for me.

You got involved with skate culture in general very early on. From your point of view, how did Supreme manage to stand out from the crowd and gain such a fan base over the years?
I've been skating since I was 8 years old and always wanted to go to America, the mecca of the skate scene. Although Southern California was the epicentre of the industry, I was much more intrigued by New York, so that was the first place I visited. At the time, Supreme was just a one-door skate shop that mainly sold other skate brands rather than its own products, which increased later on. Over the years I became a regular visitor to the shop, and when they started producing more of their own clothing, I could really relate to their references and influences, because it was all the stuff I was into too - punk, reggae, hip hop, rock'n'roll, movies, art, New York underground culture and so on. Most skate brands were based in California and created their designs around skateboarding and board graphics, so it was refreshing to have a skate shop with a more diverse and interesting perspective. Coming from gritty England, I couldn't relate to the bright colours of the Californian skate brands, whose clothing was more reminiscent of surf brands. So when this East Coast shop started offering stuff that looked more like a cross between Ralph Lauren and The Gap, it was the ideal solution for me.

As Supreme has evolved over the last two and a half decades, not only has the brand itself changed, but so has its fan base. Has that ever had an impact on you being a Supreme devotee?
Not so much, I tend to only like what I like. Supreme has made many products that I love, but also many that I would never wear - it's all a matter of personal taste and not hype or what other people wear.
The brand has definitely evolved over the years - the quality of their products has always been top notch and their popularity has given them the freedom to work with some incredible collaborators who have given them their own place in the food chain.

You've never actually bought a piece on the secondary market. What do you think of all the hype and the resale aspect that is often associated with Supreme these days?
The resale thing has been around for about 15 years, but it's definitely gone crazy in the last 3 years, I would say.  It was actually the sneaker community that started reselling - when Nike SB first partnered with Supreme in 2002, the Dunk SB was the most collected (and resalable) shoe on the market, and Supreme was becoming more prominent in the new era of streetwear blogs and forums. The first wave of sneaker resale was big business in those early SB days. So as kids queued up to buy Supreme Dunk SBs, they noticed that the clothing was also being produced in limited quantities. These young entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to make money and the Supreme resale culture was born. Nowadays, it's just crazy, a different kind of madness. Kids queue up to buy the stuff, only to resell it immediately for a profit, sometimes even in front of the shop itself! I can't blame them - I guess if I was a 15-year-old kid who had the opportunity to make hundreds or even thousands a week just standing outside a shop, I probably would have done the same thing.
Is there a Supreme item you really like but have never owned yourself?

Yeah, probably... When I think back to all the products that were on the shelves in the early days in the Lafayette Street shop, it could be seen as a missed opportunity, but back then it wasn't so much about the clothes, I don't think any of us could have foreseen what would happen in the future!

How did the whole project come about that you are now doing together with The Idle Man? And what was the idea behind doing both an exhibition and a retail event?
Originally I wanted to do a pop-up store, but that seemed kind of boring and also too limited for people outside London. I wanted to do something more interesting that also had a global reach so Supreme fans from all over the world could have the opportunity to buy some of these iconic products. I looked at a lot of different options but it was The Idle Man that came through. They are a relatively new company with a great retail platform and infrastructure to handle a big project like this. Their young team was so enthusiastic and worked really hard on everything from photography to logistics and content, it was a pleasure to work with them.
The good thing about The Idle Man is that not only do they offer worldwide shipping, but they are also allowing me to take over their retail space in London for an exhibition of some of my favourite pieces from my collection. This will give the younger generation of Supreme fans the opportunity to see some iconic pieces in person that may have appeared before they were born!
"Supreme is one of those brands that you instantly recognise. From celebrity endorsers to die-hard skate fans, Supreme just seems to resonate with everyone. Ross providing a part of his personal collection is an incredible opportunity for all fans around the world. You won't see anything like this again. "
- Oliver Tezcan, CEO, The Idle Man.
Of the entire Supreme collection available for purchase at The Idle Man, which piece do you find hardest to part with?
In a weird way, this brand has been an important part of my life for over two decades.... it's just clothes, shoes and accessories, but it's more the connection to travel, friends and experiences that makes it special. I've kept about 25% of my collection back - some really old box logo t-shirts, sweatshirts, outerwear, sneakers and accessories.

What is your favourite Supreme footwear?
I really like a lot of the Nike collaborations. The Dunk Low SB from 2002 will always be my favourite - it was the first time someone used Jordan's elephant print on a shoe that wasn't the AJIII. The Jordan III was a popular shoe with New York skaters (because it was made of durable leather and supported the ankle well), so this was a nice homage to the shoe's heritage in East Coast skateboarding culture. The execution of these shoes is perfect and was a real groundbreaking project that helped both Nike SB and Supreme gain a whole new popularity. Another favourite of mine is the Blazer SB Mids from 2006 - this shoe was more of a luxury dress shoe than a skate sneaker and made a nod to Harlem customiser Dapper Dan with the Gucci style heel tab and gold accents. Supreme also did some great collaborations with Vans and Timberland and their own AF1-style sneakers, the Midtown and Downlow, were also beautifully done.

You've been a close friend of some of Supreme's inner circle for years. What were the reactions from the brand's inner circle when you decided to do this project?
So far, everyone has been very supportive. They all know that I never bought the stuff to sell it - I'm not a reseller, just a fan of the brand and its ethos. I got a nice email from James the other day, so if the big man himself is happy, then it's all good!
@rosswilson_07 and @idle on Instagram.

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