In a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Supreme, French magazine Clark Magazine interview a pivotal member of Supreme’s operations, Angelo Baque. A translated set of questions and answers can be seen below courtesy of FRESHNGOOD.
Hi Angelo. Can you present yourself and let us know what you do and how you do it.
My name is Angelo Baque. I work for Supreme New York as the Director of Marketing. What I do and how I do it depends on what’s on my plate for the day. The best part of the job is the flexibility that I have. I Art Direct and style most, if not all, of the shoots coming out of NY and I conceptualize and produce the video content that is seen on the web with the help of my friend Jake Davis. I weigh in on the direction for future collections for Supreme. At times I also serve as a conduit for Supreme to artists, photographers, graphic designers and your local kids on the come up giving people a platform to showcase their talents.
Can you tell us how you first got involved with Supreme and how you view the evolution of the brand?
I worked for my current boss, James Jebbia, at the Stussy NY store when I was about 21 years old. Then I left to help my friend Wil Whitney start a new store called Nom De Guerre. I worked there as the manager/buyer for about three years when James called me in for a talk. That talk turned into a position at Supreme.
As for the evolution of the brand, I think about this in two ways. Supreme, the clothing brand, has continued to refine its foundation—fleece, hats and outerwear—over the past twelve years. Around 1998 I started paying attention to Supreme because I was hanging out downtown. Since then I have only noticed minimal
adjustments that have been made here and there to the actual collection, nothing drastic. To me, the brand has always done a good job of being the physical voice of NY. The second part is more about the popularity and availability of the brand. There is definitely a broader reach now: back in 1998 it was more the downtown insider/skate scene that knew about Supreme. In order to get your hands on product you had to go to the store which was a trial by fire experience back then. Now you see people wearing it worldwide. Because of the internet you don’t have to come to NY or travel to Japan to learn about the brand anymore.
Supreme has always seemed pretty adamant in working with what they consider to be like minded people, either artists or brands. That formula worked for you but how do you view the collaboration process you spearheaded?
Almost every project that we do is a group effort. Not everyone at Supreme is like-minded, which works for the better. In order for ideas to work, it needs to be cool with everyone. If everyone agreed or liked the same thing we would be the equivalent of a shoe store that only sold one brand and one color. We’re not in the business of selling Vanilla to the people.
You recently did a collaboration with APC, with whom you have in common to always do pretty similar, solid stuff, year in and year out, while still keeping it fresh. Do you think that’s what keeps your brand relevant and ahead of the competition?
The objective of Supreme’s collaborative projects is to produce a product that we would not normally do on our own. A.P.C. was a special project to me because they have the same mentality that Supreme does. If you’re familiar with NY and the SoHo area then you also know that the two stores are within walking distance but represent two different core customers. Over the last four years I would say the gap between our customers has become more narrow. On the daily, I see kids rocking A.P.C. denim with a Supreme jacket or vice versa.
When we work on collaborative projects we aren’t focusing on what other people might find “relevant.” Perfect example is the Oakley project. At the time, nobody but a small niche of kids were rockin’ Frogskins. It was a project that we believed in and knew right off the bat would be fresh. Dope product speaks for itself.
A few years ago, Supreme started selling their products online. Many must have accused you of “selling out”. Does it bother you to be held at a different standard than less-regarded brands?
I never translated going online as “selling out.” Our customers remain as adamant about their taste and lifestyle. In these times, kids are going to find a way to buy the goods whether it’s through Ebay or on a forum. Why not let them buy it from the main source?
I have inside information that you’re one of the biggest Morrissey fans around. What else is inspiring you when you work?
Hell yeah! I’m a huge Morrissey fan. I was blessed to have a weirdo neighbor that put me on to him then The Smiths at a young age. Photography, Joe Bataan, Richard Avedon, Good Shoes, Young Chris mixes, Nas, Queens, MObb Deep, Cam’Ron & Vado, ignorance, Shaq, internet lurking, Art Laboe oldies, women and by far on top of my list is worldstarhiphop.com!! The day to day grind, waking up,looking out the window, walking to the train station, listening to thecity. Knowing that I have the power to change each day that I wake up and breathe. Family and the ever-growing worldwide friends I have been able to make over the last 31 years keep my brain rotating. Always waiting for the next adventure.
Any last words for the French readership. Any information on where Supreme will be now that you aren’t at Colette anymore?
Sit tight and don’t spend all your money on Ebay…