Supreme is converting hype into altruism. The brand just announced the release of a COVID-19 relief tee, a subject that’s been sloshing around gossipy Instagram accounts the past couple weeks. What none of these accounts had anticipated was the grail-level item that Supreme would drop out of its design studio. The brand is taking its most iconic and coveted design—the box-logo tee—printing it with original artwork from Takashi Murakami, and selling it online to support homelessness relief.
“Supreme will release a benefit Box Logo Tee to support youth and families facing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the brand’s website reads. “The Box Logo Tee features original artwork by Takashi Murakami. 100% of proceeds will go to HELP USA.” The tee will release this Friday in the U.S., presumably at the normal drop time of 11 a.m. eastern. The box logo alone would have made this tee a success; incorporating Murakami, who is known for his radically colorful and cheerful artworks, and who has become intertwined with the Virgil-streetwear-hypebeast matrix in recent years, is a nice bit of brightness in the gloom of coronavirus. It’s also good business: this sucker is going to do numbers. (Typically, box logo tees are released in incredibly limited numbers, the stock evaporating in seconds. It will be interesting to see whether Supreme ramps up production on this particular item, knowing that will mean more money to donate—and to see whether or not resale sites are flooded with owners looking to make a quick buck on a charity item.)
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen fashion companies suffer from a corona-wracked economy—but we’ve also seen them step up the best way they can to assist those affected. Ralph Lauren threw American-dream level money at the problem, Brooks Brothers whirred its manufacturing plants into action to make medical-grade equipment, and many other fashion brands have stepped up make masks for the general public.
Supreme, on the other hand, knows the ultimate weapon in its arsenal is the rabid fanbase it can whip into a frenzy with the release of a T-shirt. At $60, the COVID-19 relief box logo is about $20 bucks more than the average tee Supreme sells, but the brand knows it will have absolutely no problem moving the T-shirt at that cost. (After all, box logos move for many multiples of that every day on the secondary market). This is a grail, and one that goes to an excellent cause. Ever since this pandemic started, people have been reconsidering their shopping practices and trying to figure out how they can support the brands they love. From that angle, Supreme’s COVID-19 relief tee isn’t just a grail—it’s a simple way to shop responsibly.