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.
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.