Toronto can't get enough of ridiculously expensive Supreme knick knacks
There isn't a basic text logo on Earth with more cultural cachet than Supreme's right now.
Founded in 1994, the New York-based skateboard and streetwear brand epitomizes hype—more and more so with each passing year, it seems, to the point where people now line up for Supreme merchandise drops at ten times the volume they do for iPhones.
Part of this can be attributed to design and smart collaborations. An even larger part can be explained by more than a century of sociological and economic theory. (What's up, Thorstein Veblen?)
Most experts agree, however, that when it comes to Supreme, it's a case of manufactured exclusivity.
Everything Supreme sells from its 11 official stores worldwide is limited (read: produced only once and in very small numbers) and can sell for as much as 40 times the original retail price—if you can get your hands on it at all.
"By limiting the supply of these items, they've created a huge demand," says Adam Osman of the Toronto-based streetwear retailer UNDRAFTD. "People want what they can't easily get. This demand allows for secondary resale markets to profit upwards of 200 per cent on an item."
It's this secondary market where so much opportunity lies for the entrepreneurs like Osman, his partners, and a growing number of Torontonians who focus on, as he puts it, "reselling legitimate items."
Brick and mortar stores that sell new Supreme goods are indeed hard to find in this city (though you can find some, like Kenshi).
Some Canadians pick up Supreme duds from the U.S. via reseller sites like eBay and Grailed (where a coveted box logo hoodie will cost you more than $1,000 in Canadian currency). Others shop abroad and bring back clothing from Tokyo or Paris.
Individual sellers and vendors like UNDRAFTD, which do most of their sales through Instagram, Facebook groups, forums, and Kijiji have been changing the game in recent years by allowing people here in Toronto to buy the stuff they want directly.
The direct-to-consumer via social media is not a new business model for streetwear resellers, but it's popularity has exploded over the past few years.
Shoes and clothing are one thing, but people are actually scouring hashtags like #supremetoronto (and paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars) for random, everyday items emblazoned with Supreme's simple, Krugeresque red and white logo.
A $260 bike lock? Hypebeasts will buy it.
A small inflatable blimp for $150 CAD? Why not.
A freaking ad on the cover of the New York Post for $25? Sure thing.
A lot of these random household and decorative items happen to be deadstock—which once meant "not being made anymore" but more recently has come to denote "brand-new, unopened, unworn, tags are still on, etc.," according to Osman.
Deadstock items are more valuable than used items, which might be why so many people are shelling out say, $250 for playing dice. Or $70 for the type of mini-flashlight you can get for free at literally any conference.
"Unused items make them more valuable and, more importantly, maximize reseller profits," says Osman, which makes sense if a buyer's intention is simply to flip an item for more money.
Some people simply want to make Supreme grails in their bedrooms (and hey, no judgment here. I've got overpriced Sailor Moon stuff all over mine).
Whatever the case, there's a market for this stuff in our own backyard. A big, red, intentionally conspicuous one.
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