23 years after it launched with a single store in New York City, Supreme has grown into one of the most popular streetwear brands on the planet.
Last week, founder James Jebbia confirmed that private equity firm The Carlyle Group had acquired a significant stake in the brand, putting its valuation at $1 billion.
“We’re a growing brand, and to sustain that growth we’ve chosen to work with Carlyle, who has the operational expertise needed to keep us on the steady path we’ve been on since 1994,” he told BoF. “Working with Carlyle allows us to concentrate on doing what we do best and remain in control of our brand, as we always have.”
The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but sources said The Carlyle Group paid around $500 million a roughly 50% stake in Supreme.
Apparently, this isn’t the only investor Supreme has ever taken in. In 2014, New York-based private equity firm Goode Partners took a minority stake in Supreme, but never publicly spoke on the deal and don’t publicize it.
The deal helped Supreme to expand its retail network, with the the launch of its 10th store, which is opened in Paris in 2016. A second New York boutique launched just last week in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Supreme also has a store in Los Angeles and London, and six stores in Japan, as well as its original NYC store.
Typically, private equity firms invest in a company with the aim to acquire, rapidly grow and then sell within three to five years… which could explain some of Supreme’s recent moves.
Earlier this year, Supreme dropped an extremely hyped and limited collaboration with Louis Vuitton. While it was one of the biggest streetwear releases ever, it had mixed emotions from brand loyalists and skaters who first wore then brand, declaring Supreme had “sold out”. Ironically, Supreme received a cease and desist letter from Louis Vuitton in 2000, after it printed the luxury brand’s classic monogram on skateboard decks without authorization.
Where Supreme goes from here remains to be seen, but all signs point to an eventual exit for Jebbia.