Supra underlines its ambition to remain a household name in the streetwear and sneaker scene. The LA-based sneaker brand recently introduced its s/s ’19 collection in Berlin, which was a good opportunity to chat with Supra‘s creative director Ace Rice and footwear designer Brandon Coopman to understand their vision about trends and streetwear.
Ace, you are fairly new on board at Supra. What has your creative impact been so far and is that already visible?
Ace Rice (AR): Yeah, I started as creative director in January. Before Supra didn’t have that position, so it’s kind of a new experience for everyone. I would say right now we are almost at the end of the process. Due to all restructuring there was a lack of direction. But now we are back on track.
Brandon Coopman (BC): There was a lack of design, the collection had become a bit dull. But that has changed, we went through a learning curve. With the summer ’19 collection we brought the brand back to where it used to be. It’s fun again, just not what people expect.
What does that mean for the summer ’19 collection?
BC: It’s very ’90s tied, but at the same time it’s a juxtaposition of the past and the future.
AR: Trends always show what is going on in our society. They mirror people’s lives. And due to the Internet trends have become global phenomena. It’s not so much about certain colors or looks, but rather about developments such as the popularity of YouTube, certain technical devices... these things have an impact and create trends.
BC: This sure is an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time for a designer. Preferences for colors change rapidly these days, and it’s hard to forecast what will be the next big thing, but at the same time the vibe is a similar one around the globe. Instead of focusing too much on microtrends we rather work with moodboards–it’s things such as cars, technology or architecture that inspire me.
AR: There is a lot subconsciously happening in our minds. Take the current trend of minimalism and normcore. This had its origin for example in ’90s grunge. But you will hardly realize.
Since 2015 Supra belongs to K-Swiss Global Brands. Does being part of a holding put more pressure on Supra in terms of commerciality, and therefore the need to extend the lifestyle range?
AR: In fact, Supra has been making the vast majority of its turnover always with the lifestyle range even though our roots are in skating. About 80% come from lifestyle sneakers. From the beginning the brand always carried also styles such as running trainers in their offer. When you look at celebs such as Jay-Z or Justin Bieber who wear our shoes you see them wearing the lifestyle products. We will always stick to our skate DNA, but since lifestyle sneakers always played an important role it’s just natural to extend that range. And in that sense we have to engage with the customer even more than before and offer what they want.
Supra’s appeal is rather male even though you offer a girls’ range. What about approaching the ladies?
AR: Rather than sticking to doing typical girls’ stuff I like the idea of unisex. In streetwear girls often prefer to wear the guys’ items anyway, because it looks much cooler. We still have to figure out exactly how to transport this into our collection and how we merchandise it. For example I like the idea of having the category “unisex” in addition to the “men’s” and “women’s” categories on our webshop or even giving the distinction up completely.
Your target group addresses 15- to 25-year-olds. How do you keep track with that generation yourself?
AR: I simply try to hang out with the kids. My nephews are in their teens, I talk to them a lot, play basketball with them... That’s basically how I get to know what they think and what they are interested in.
What role does music, especially hip-hop, play in that context?
AR: Hip-hop is today’s pop music. It connects everyone because everyone listens to it, it’s totally established. Brands have to tie up to hip-hop because it has become the most popular music for kids.
BC: In skate it used to be about punk or hardcore music, but that has changed in the last years. Today the skate kids also listen to hip-hop. The hip-hop culture has become an integral part of pop culture.