This past Sunday, streetwear behemoth, Supreme, was the subject of Hasan Minaj’s new (and very good) Netflix show, Patriot Act, and the comedian pulled no punches while explaining the brand / phenomenon.
From their appropriation-rich history to their newish relationship with the war-heavy portfolio of the Carlyle Group (the ambiguously evil private equity firm that now owns half of the company), Minhaj peeled back the curtain on the brand that has basically replaced drugs in the lives of teenagers.
He went into the history of drop culture, dove deep into the supply-and-demand economics of sneaker releases, broke down the evolution of the Box Logo, and touched on artist Barbara Kruger’s opinion of the brand — she once called them a “ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers,” which they should’ve made into a t-shirt but didn’t. (He even showed a clip of Supreme founder James Jebbia working as a child actor, so that was fun.)
What stood out most, however, is Supreme’s connection to the ongoing – and utterly devastating – civil war in Yemen, via their new financiers. As Minhaj explains, the Carlyle Group bought Supreme to make money off Supreme, and it also owns large positions in companies like Wesco Aircraft Holdings. Wesco makes things like the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is the plane that the Royal Saudi Air Force has been using in their air raids on Yemen — and when one does well, the other does well.
As Slate summarized it in their coverage of the episode, “the Carlyle Group makes money from death, they also make money from Supreme-branded merchandise, and it’s a package deal.”