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The Hypebeasts Are Coming for Your Beloved Anti-Consumerist Icons

Illustration for article titled The Hypebeasts Are Coming for Your Beloved Anti-Consumerist Icons
Screenshot: Supreme Instagram

In 2019, Supreme—the hypebeast clothing brand coveted by teenagers and adults with questionable taste—launched streetwear lines inspired by The Velvet Underground and The Smiths. (I would call this the cool guy’s response to Joy Division’s ubiquitous Unknown Pleasures iconography, but Supreme has repackaged and sold that, too.) In April, the brand announced another musical collab utilizing the formative shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine. I’m not sure which creative director over there just discovered early ’90s college radio or MTV shows like The Cutting Edge and 120 Minutes, but the trend continues: Monday, Supreme introduced a collection featuring original artwork by outsider icon Daniel Johnston, who died last September.

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Johnston’s cult hero status was predicated on his talent and his ability to create art outside of the traditional music business structure, so a Supreme line featuring his drawings eight months after his death feels cheap. I can’t help but wonder who’s in charge of his estate and why they’ve elected to approve this—at the very least, Supreme feels like the artistic opposite of the man whose raw music was recorded onto blank tape and distributed freely to anyone interested in it. So... why does this exist? And who thought it would be an impactful homage?

In truth, the Supreme collection is just a symbol of what’s to come: Johnston will be martyred like the far more famous people he inspired (Kurt Cobain being the most obvious one) and these overpriced Hi, How Are You shirts are just a giant leap towards that inevitable reality. However, if you’re a Gen Z kid with cool Gen X parents, this seems like a fun way to piss them off... so, there’s that.

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Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

stalefrybread
stalefrybread

Gen-Xer here. I really don’t find any of this mainstream adoption of cool shit problematic....I expected all of the “underground” stuff I was into to eventually be (a) incredibly uncool or (b) co-opted and re-purposed by a younger generation.

All the shit I was into in the 80s and very early 90s-from Dark Horse Comics to Death Rock, Hip Hop, Punk, Industrial, Anime (you actually had to go looking for it IRL) & Graffiti-the fact that it is all so mainstream now is to me a nod to my good taste as a teenager.

When Beto O’Rourke name-dropped Fugazi (a band whose shows you had to learn about by word of mouth) on the campaign trail I was like, “wow, I’m old.” But, like, *cool* old.