What do a crowbar, a pinball machine and a Meissen ceramic sculpture all have in common? Ask your nearest fifteen year old – they might just surprise you with the answer
To the outside world, the antique trade can be quite an intimidating one. A realm of unknowns, pitfalls and trade secrets, many of its nuances can only be uncovered with astute market study, or a trial and error policy when it comes to buying. “All part of the charm,” the old hands might say. Yet for an industry selling items of indulgence this is a perilous position – it is harder than ever to catch the attention of young people, bombarded by products and with new trends to follow that are never more than a tap away. The value of exceptional craft, cherished possessions and broadened cultural understanding finds itself under threat in modern times – could antiques lose their mystique for good?
Thankfully, there is still hope. One of contemporary society’s most iconic brands has broken new ground with a recent product release, potentially altering the way that young people view antiques and bringing a fresh perspective to one of Europe’s most traditional sectors. A clothing label usually catering for rappers and skateboarders has just released their own Meissen figurine – Europe’s finest ceramic manufactory with work dating back to the early 1700’s.
Supreme has shot to fame over the last twenty-five years, attaining a current market capitalisation of roughly a billion dollars despite operating just eleven stores worldwide. Founder James Jebbia and his team have employed impeccable cultural referencing, headline grabbing products and sublime marketing strategy to become symbols of sartorial simplicity and modern cultural sophistication. Their place amongst the elite of modern menswear was confirmed by an exhaustive collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2017, despite Vuitton placing a cease and desist order on a Supreme release dating back to 2000.
By the mid 2000’s the Supreme logo, a Kruger-inspired modern classic, had attained cult status amongst a legion of crazed fans with early editions of the ‘box logo’ T-Shirt and numerous other esteemed items commanding thousands in online marketplaces. Many companies in this sector enjoy a brief moment in the sun before sinking without trace, but the secret to Supreme’s longevity lies in their unpredictability, items such as their S/S 2019 Meissen figurine helping to ensure demand for the brand’s offerings continuously outweighs supply.
Every item in the title of this article (alongside NYC Metro Cards, bolt cutters, and a brick) has been released under the Supreme moniker, saying something about what the brand stands for or making a point of saying nothing at all. Many Meissen collectors will have a child (or grandchild) that collects Supreme just as fervently as they do, and both are perhaps searching for something to remind them that some objects are more than the sum of their parts.
If enthusiasts young and old are looking for the same things in different places, Supreme and Meissen’s collaboration has connected the dots between them. It’s a triumphant moment for both companies, and one that could usher in a new relationship between youth and antique culture.
Image Courtesy of Meissen/Supreme