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What lies behind the Corteiz and Supreme collab

Can the generational crossover cut through the noise in the increasingly saturated streetwear market?

Published December 20, 2023


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Last weekend, a bright red billboard bearing the distinctive Corteiz Alcatraz logo stacked below the Supreme logo was quietly put on display in West London. To those in the know, it was a clear indicator that a collaboration between the two brands was imminent. Streetwear content creator and commentator Fabio Dessena, also known as “Voice of the streets” on social media, where he regularly posts videos announcing and analysing upcoming drops, spotted the billboard and posted a photo on his Instagram page. Less than 24 hours later, the post went viral and was viewed over 100,000 times.

On Tuesday, Corteiz founder Clint419 confirmed the partnership on Instagram with the caption, “By any means necessary”. Further details of the collaboration have not been released. It’s Corteiz’s second major tie-up to date, following the Nike collab, which resulted in a limited edition of the Nike Air Max 95 sneaker in three colourways. That drop caused a frenzy among streetwear fans and sold out within minutes.

Corteiz, founded in London in 2017, has developed a cult following in a crowded category. Part of the appeal is its elusive nature: pieces sell out within minutes on a private e-commerce site that’s password-gated, and no drop is ever the same, a tactic designed to keep its cult fanbase engaged. It’s, in some ways, a streetwear antithesis to Supreme, which has long outgrown its underground roots and is now owned by VF Corp, the parent company of The North Face and Timberland.

It’s a marriage between two generations: Supreme, who helped shape the streetwear industry in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and Corteiz, who dominates the streetwear landscape today. Experts expect it to lend a halo effect to both brands and for products to sell out quickly.

Supreme is betting on this partnership to help it regain momentum. Creative director Tremaine Emory resigned from the company in August, publicly airing accusations that systemic racism prompted his exit (Supreme refuted this claim in a statement at the time). Sales for the brand declined in fiscal 2023 from $561.5 million to $523.1 million, VF Corp reported in June. Projected sales for the year were $600 million. The company completed the acquisition of the brand in December 2020 for $2.4 billion.

For both brands, it’s a way to cut through the noise. The streetwear market has become increasingly more saturated, with brands that once dominated the market falling to the sidelines. “Supreme continues to be relevant today but has lost some of its momentum,” says Jessica Ramirez, senior analyst at research firm Jane Hali & Associates. “The streetwear market has become competitive and, much like outdoor and sportswear, there has been a boom of DTC brands and luxury chasing the market.” (Supreme, VF Corp and Corteiz did not respond to Vogue Business’s request for comment.)

Supreme does not typically collaborate with other streetwear brands, Dessena notes, which underscores the international impact Corteiz is currently having on the streetwear landscape. It’s not the first time the two brands have worked together. In August, Clint appeared as the face of Supreme’s Autumn/Winter 2023 campaign, dressed in various Supreme pieces, including jerseys, tracksuits and a range of Supreme outerwear pieces. As for Corteiz, it’s receiving the co-sign from a streetwear giant that has played a vital and historic role in shaping the market. “There’s still massive queues for Supreme every single day; they’re still selling out on the website,” says Dessena.

Streetwear players need to innovate or risk becoming irrelevant. “Brands that are able to benefit from hype for an extensive period also need to understand they cannot rely on a retail model or product forever and must evolve their strategy in order to future-proof their brand,” says Ramirez. “The key is evolving while staying true to the roots of the brand.” Corteiz has managed to do so by keeping its product drops exclusive while also hosting public stunts that draw attention and hype to the brand: previous stunts include a takeover in Shepherd’s Bush Market in London, selling Corteiz cargo pants for 99p in 2022. That year, it also hosted a puffer swap, drawing massive crowds to a location in London where fans could trade in jackets from competitor brands in exchange for a free Corteiz Bolo coat.

While much is still unknown about what will come out of the collab, the resale potential will have fans — and resellers — eagerly waiting. Corteiz’s partnership with Nike has performed well on sneaker and streetwear resale platforms such as StockX. The Nike x Corteiz shoes currently have an average price premium of 102 per cent, which puts it among the top 30 releases of the year when ranked by average price premium, says Drew Haines, merchandising director of sneakers and collectibles at StockX. The sneakers’ average resale price on StockX is $384, up 56 per cent from its original £170 ($216) price tag.

“Both brands bring something exciting to the table, and whatever they create together, I'm sure is going to be a success,” says Haines. “Over the past few years, Corteiz has exploded across the scene due to its fresh designs and marketing prowess. It has gained a loyal following that can be seen from its sold-out drops and the noise created around its releases, including the recent Nike Air Max 95 collection. Supreme is one of the top-traded apparel brands on StockX and created the playbook for drop culture.”

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