VF Corp, the parent company of The North Face and Vans, has acquired streetwear brand Supreme for $2.1 billion.
Can the brand retain its “street cred” after this?
VF Corp is the parent company of The North Face, Vans, Timberland, Eastpak, Napapijri, and Dickies.
Supreme sold for $2.1 billion. The American skateboarding shop and clothing brand was established in New York City in April 1994 and partly owned by private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP, which in October 2017 purchased 50% of the brand for roughly $500 million, valuing the streetwear label at nearly $1 billion.
“We’re proud to join VF, a world-class company that is home to great brands we’ve worked with for years, including The North Face, Vans, and Timberland. This partnership will maintain our unique culture and independence while allowing us to grow on the same path we’ve been on since 1994,” said Supreme’s founder James Jebbia.
Steve Rendle, VF Corp’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer, added: “VF is the ideal steward to honor the authentic heritage of this cultural lifestyle brand while providing the opportunity to leverage our scale and expertise to enable sustainable long-term growth. The acquisition of the Supreme brand is further validation of our vision and strategy to further evolve our portfolio of brands to align with the total addressable market opportunities we see driving the apparel and footwear sector.”
But while the acquisition could give Supreme “opportunities to leverage its global supply chain, international platforms, digital capabilities, and consumer understanding,” many are concerned about the brand’s ability to retain its street cred even after VF Corp announced that it would not limit Supreme to strictly work collaboratively with brands within the VF portfolio.
Supreme’s fantastic growth was nurtured by its early understanding of the power to drive “social influence” across every touchpoint where it interacts with its audience. The brand counts nearly 14 million followers on Instagram but more than its own channels, it is the countless fan accounts and Reddit threads dedicated to Supreme’s latest drops, that are at the core of its success.
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