Part of the fun of following Supreme is seeing what reference or trend its prize wheel will click-click-click to next. One season it’s Kermit the Frog; the next, Supreme is working with artwork by Daniel Johnston. For a new collaboration with the North Face dropping this week, the Supreme designers spun the wheel and landed on inspiration from their local REI shop. Sure, we’ve all been told to stay indoors—but there’s never a bad time to buy crunchy outdoors gear, right?
As usual, Supreme is operating in its own universe. The new collection advances the argument that the sports league most fecund with inspiration isn’t the NBA, or even the MLB—a recent Supreme reference. Instead, the brand argues, there is nothing cooler than flipping over to ESPN 8: The Ocho and catching your favorite fly fisher—I bet you’re a George Daniels stan—for some new fitspiration. At least, that seems to be what Supreme did with this latest TNF drop: the cargo vests in this collection are such faithful recreations of fishing gear that, should they sell out, disappointed shoppers will be able to soothe themselves with identical versions from Bass Pro Shops or Patagonia. Other pieces, like the floating keychain or the cap with the protective face and neck attachment to keep the flies away, lean right into the theme. There are no waders, unfortunately, but zip-off cargos should do the trick in a pinch. Rounding out the drop is a jacket with a downright confounding amount of pockets. And then, of course, there’s a T-shirt that is likely to be the crown jewel of the collection. All proceeds from the sale of the tee will be donated to GlobalGiving's Coronavirus relief fund, which is providing healthcare and medical supplies to affected communities. (The last time Supreme released a charity T-shirt, with Takashi Murakami, it raised over $1 million. And turned into a monster on the secondary market.)
Supreme, as we’ve covered, is no stranger to off-the-beaten-path references. Oddly enough, high-fashion takes on the outdoors, and fishing specifically, is actually well-trod territory. In 2017, The Cut coined Gorpcore, an aesthetic anyone with access to an outdoors shop could get in on. The golden era of Patagonia fleece and North Face jackets gave way to a more recent tech-finshed movement: now, the dominating outdoor aesthetic revolves around brands like Arc'teryx, Stone Island, and Salomon—brands that make super-techy clothes as fit for a hike as they seem to be for an apocalypse. Like Supreme's collection with The North Face, the movement is dominated by buckles, zippers, and so many pockets. In that way, the Supreme collection feels like it’s arriving right on time. Maybe an outdoor collection in a time of self-quarantine feels strange, but it feels just right when taken as just-in-case-the-apocalypse-comes wear.
Supreme, though, has never been terribly interested in arriving right on time. The beauty of the brand is that it doesn’t necessarily play to the rhythms of trends. Out of the blue this season, it announced a capsule celebrating My Bloody Valentine, a band that released its best album 29 years ago. Supreme is large and influential enough to encourage its audience to invest in a trend or reference, and not the other way around. While granola-y techwear is an aesthetic that largely came and went for some, the trend hasn't quite fully gotten its crunchy arms around a fandom. Fly fishing’s best days as a style influence are still ahead of us, if Supreme has its way. But even if it’s not, that T-shirt is really cool.