If you’re one of those people who wait in line for sneaker drops, prioritise a flash sale over getting to work on time, or buy cult fashion items just to resell them, then you probably knew that streetwear brand Supreme’s latest drop would make the cover of the New York Post. It was a deal as calculated and lucrative as all of the streetwear brand's collaborations — in terms of branded content (see also: generic advertising) to launch its autumn 2018 collection, at least — but, this time, before contributing to its resale value, it pays to be skeptical.
The limited run of Monday's newspaper, which sold for $1 when it hit the streets of New York on Monday and is now being hocked on eBay for 85 times its original price, is already sold out. That stat is par for the course when it comes to Supreme — its Louis Vuitton collaboration is one of the most famous brand partnerships in history — but it's a stark contrast to the NY Post's recent business figures. The newspaper has been profitless for decades under its Rupert Murdoch (News Corp) ownership and has faced the possibility of folding several times. But that's not its only controversy.
Founded by Alexander Hamilton, a federalist, in 1801 (known then as the New-York Evening Post), the newspaper served as a creative journal of sorts for years, publishing literary and drama reviews, including some political op-eds by William Leggett. Until 1976, when Murdoch purchased the paper from debutante publisher Dorothy Schiff, it remained largely liberal (it was once owned by a founding member of both the NAACP and the ACLU). Murdoch later adopted the British tabloid style of his other newspapers, namely the UK's The Sun, and, as a result, became the NY Post we know today.
Cue several offensive covers, including a graphic picture of the moment a gunman fatally shot journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward during a live broadcast (another, a photo of American journalist James Foley being beheaded by ISIS); antagonistic fashion coverage, which pronounces several aspects of the industry as "dead" and judges red carpet fashion on successes and "failures" and "winners" and "losers;" and its increasingly conservative reporting. Its bias may be hard to quantify depending on one's political leanings, but it's clearer in its opinionated reporting on women.
It's also no secret that President Donald Trump has strong decades-long ties to the paper. Gossip columnist Cindy Adams aided the real estate mogul during the newspaper's juiciest era in the 90s – while he was divorcing Ivana Trump (and marrying Marla Maples) and opening up the now-closed Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Adams served as his messenger, so to speak, as he fed her personal scoops; in his favour, she published them. And let's not forget Trump's relationship with Murdoch. Though it's been reported that Trump and Murdoch have been 'frenemies' for years (Murdoch seemingly had the money and power Trump never actually had), it was Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner who allegedly helped bring the two businessmen to a point of detente.
Maybe none of this matters to both the NY Post and Supreme's demographics, but it's worth knowing in case you thought about buying into the hype this time around. Because when it comes to controversy, fashion brands — especially those whose customer base is predominantly men — are, for the most part, untouchable. And, though we've tried to boycott them in the past, it's never really worked. (Remember #BoycottDolce&Gabbana?) On the contrary, if a creative director is caught being racist, they are fired. If a fashion photographer is exposed as someone who harasses models, they are exiled. But the industry is still far from regulated or consistent in its ethics. You can even be an alleged rapist and still sit front row at the biggest show of Paris Fashion Week.
So, who is Supreme trying to entice with its latest advertising stunt? The readership of the NY Post? And what went into the brokering of this deal on the Post's end? Is it an attempt to diversify its readership and boost its street cred? In 2018, the idea of a newspaper needing all of the fresh revenue streams it can get isn't exactly a hypothesis. But the fact that Supreme, a brand that has remained silent during fashion's most political era, chose a right-leaning publication as its latest partner speaks volumes. Is it worth giving them a free pass just for the hype? With all this talk of shopping consciously, not just in terms of sustainability and ethics but in terms of values and mission, it's time we held brands accountable for their affiliations, too.
Sure, Supreme is cool and all — so cool that a $475 (£350) price tag for a water bottle with its logo on it is normal — but why not spend $1 on literally anything else?