So the events surrounding the ongoing legal drama between Supreme’s James Jebbia and Married To The Mob’s Leah McSweeney just took an interesting turn. For those out of the loop (or actually living their lives instead of lurking the ‘net), the cliff notes go something like this;
– In 2004 McSweeney dropped a t-shirt that flipped Supreme’s iconic box logo by changing the text to read ‘Supreme Bitch‘. A design that she argues was a shot at the misogynistic culture surrounding the brand and its proponents.
– James Jebbia initially signed off on the design, allegedly believing it to be a one off t-shirt, and actually stocked it in his Union NYC store.
– As Married To The Mob’s success continued to grow, the parody became a touchstone design and found its way on to a variety of other products in the brands range. In January this year McSweeney attempted to trademark the design.
-This action prompted Jebbia to counter with a $10 million lawsuit on the basis of trademark infringement, claiming that McSweeney is “trying to build her whole brand by piggybacking off Supreme.” (New York Magazine article)
-The streetwear world gets wind off the legal drama, and the blogosphere subsequently explodes.
Now, it’s up to the courts to decide who is legally in the right here. But on ideological grounds, surely the inherent irony of a company that’s built a large part of its reputation by producing unlicensed parodies time after time after time, then turning around and deciding to sue for trademark infringement isn’t lost on anyone. I mean, it’s almost as ridiculous as a brand that claims to be attacking the misogynistic world of streetwear and championing women’s rights by boldly printing the word ‘Bitch’ across their chests.
However, the one party that’s been largely overlooked in this whole drama is Barbara Kruger. It’s Kruger’s conceptual artworks that initially inspired Supreme’s box logo, with her feminist, anti-capitalist cultural commentary becoming the basis for the visual branding of arguably the most successful streetwear label in the world. Kruger has long been reticent about her thoughts on the company, but this latest controversy seems to have motivated her to break her silence. The good folks over at Complex reached out to Kruger, and her response was as simple, poignant and brutally effective as her artworks.
‘What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers. I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce. I’m waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement.”
I guess the real question is how long it’ll take Supreme to incorporate this statement into a limited run t-shirt?