Despite the raging popularity of Supreme, few are privy to one of the main reasons for the brand’s success — the work of Creative Director Brendon Babenzien. Blessed with an insider’s knowledge of the New York skateboarding scene along with the objective view of a cultural outsider, Babenzien’s forte is the deft mixture of streetwear and classic menswear. Four Pins‘ contributor Elliot Aronow recently chatted with the soft-spoken creative director for his thoughts on the Supreme craze, his design process, and why you should put what you do over what you wear.
Where does Supreme’s sensibility end and where does yours begin? How closely are they related?
Brendon Babenzien: That’s actually a great question. It’s been so long that it is really hard to say. Most of my life has been around skateboards and music and stuff and that is basically the Supreme lifestyle, so they’re pretty close. I think everyone that ends up at Supreme ends up there for a reason. The interesting thing now is seeing more than one generation and how they relate to each other. You can see the same type of attitude and how it manifests itself at different ages.
Do you agonize over and continually refine your pieces or just go with it once it feels right?
We definitely start with a very organic, this feels right approach. That tends to be the best stuff. When you have to deliberate too much, it usually means something is wrong.
Has there been a take away from being the game as long as you have, something you learned that you have carried with you?
Trust your instincts.
How do you feel about people fetishizing Supreme as a brand? Do you feel like part of the success is doing things other people can’t or won’t do
As far as people fetishizing Supreme, it’s kinda cool and flattering for all of us involved. For me personally though, it’s a little scary. Any time people use product as ways to define themselves or their lifestyle, I get concerned for our society as a whole. I want kids to do stuff. Skate, play music, sports, write, whatever. But do something, then if you have some time, worry about your gear.
What were the first sorts of clothing items to capture your imagination?
When I was a kid I was into skating and surfing and music. The first thing I saw that felt like my world was Stussy. But I really was into traditional stuff too so it made for some interesting choices. A really close friend of mine started making clothes when we were still really young. His company was called Pervert and I worked with him for a while. That stuff was really us. It was when skate, surf, hip hop and all of the good things about youth culture organically found each other. It seemed really NY since we would be at the beach all day, but then at night would be running around the city to whatever party was happening at the time. Pervert was amazing, and Don was one of the best. If he hadn’t lost it and gave it all away, he would certainly have been a big deal in the business. His story is pretty nuts but that’s for another time.
What advice do you have for young people who want to resist the rising corporate tide of lifestyle marketing and quick buck sellout shit?
Put what you do above what you wear.