Sometime in fall 2015, on the streets of Soho, I noticed this manhole cover plastered with a few years’ worth of stickers from graffiti artists-turned-gallery artists and punk bands-turned-guerilla marketers, with one sticker in particular jumping out at me. It was a weird juxtaposition of two very particular brands, both of which have delivered into my life no small degree of insanity and joy (often in equal measure). I could not imagine EVER seeing this very unusual image again, anywhere else in the world, so I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture for posterity. It’s been my Facebook cover photo for a while now, but I’ll share it here, too:
You’re reading Stereogum, so you definitely know who Morrissey is. You maybe recognize the font in which his name appears on that sticker, but if you don’t: It’s iconically associated with Supreme, the skateboard/hip-hop clothing company that has found itself as one of the focal points around which hypebeast culture revolves. Morrissey + Supreme?! Who the hell paid to print those stickers, right?
Turns out, Supreme paid for them, presumably with (justified) confidence that people like me would take these pictures and share them on their social-media channels. Mission accomplished! Like I said, that was months ago. I can’t remember when exactly, and I can’t even check my phone to verify, because I’ve since gotten a new phone. Anyway, last Saturday, the second step in the clothing company’s terrifyingly effective hype-building campaign was rolled out, when Morrissey-starring Supreme posters started appearing on city walls in Japan and France. Turns out, Moz had been tapped for his own Supreme modeling campaign, following in the footsteps of such other cantankerous, anti-establishment, old-white-dude musicians as Neil Young and Lou Reed.
“Good for Moz!” I thought to myself. “He can probably use the money.”
Of course, within hours of those photos getting circulated on music blogs and sneaker-porn Instagram accounts, Morrissey announced that he was protesting the use of his image in association with Supreme. CLASSIC MORRISSEY!
I apologize enormously for the enfeebled photograph of me issued this week by Supreme. The shot was taken in October 2015. I considered the photograph to be fit only for a medical encyclopedia and I pleaded with Supreme not to use it. This was before I learned that Supreme were sponsored in part by the beef sandwich pharaoh known as White Castle. Supreme were issued with a legal caution not to use the photograph and their fee would be returned. Evidently Supreme have ignored my lawyer. No safety within the corridors of law. Ugh.
Ugh indeed! I for one think he looks great, but hey, we’re all our own worst critics, right?
SO ANYWAY a couple days after the posters appeared, one of the hypebeast designers in my Twitter timeline was selling them, suitable for framing, at an antique-auction-percentage markup:
I’m in the house working, gonna get like 200 of these orders off tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/hc9cNUfVPi
— A.A. (@adamariagga) February 16, 2016
In all honestly, I would have bought one, but I knew Morrissey wouldn’t approve, so I abstained. When it comes to this stuff, you either gotta jump in the second you see an opportunity or just accept the loss, because the prices skyrocket as the supply dissipates. The seller in question is probably cleaned out by now, but you could hit him up if you’re interested. The real prize, though, is the Supreme-issued Morrissey T-shirt, which went on sale today as the centerpiece of the company’s Spring Drop. Check it out!
If you follow this stuff at all, you know that the beasts line up a day or two (or three) in advance to grab whatever is being sold, often irrespective of any actual interest: sometimes to wear, sometimes to hold onto as an investment, and very often to flip on eBay at an exponentially higher-than-retail cost. We saw abundant evidence of this at Kanye’s recent MSG event.
— Michael Nelson (@nelsonicboom) February 11, 2016
Some of those people had been waiting outside Madison Square Garden — outdoors, motionless, in the soul-crushing gray maw above Penn fucking Station — for 16 or 17 hours just to gobble up Kanye tour merch: not Yeezy sneakers, not Season 3 outerware. TOUR MERCH. In 5-degree weather! Dedication, man. I admire it.
I bet a decent percentage of the dudes in that line (and they were literally almost all dudes) were also in line today (and yesterday) at Supreme’s flagship store on Lafayette Street, trying to cop the Morrissey/Supreme shirt. But how many of them have the slightest fucking clue who Morrissey even is?
Complex sent reporter Emily Oberg to ask that very question. The answer? Not many! One kid was able to identify Moz as the singer of the Smiths, but his buddy quickly shot him down:
“His mom told him about it.”
None of them give a shit, of course, so they’re basically just trolling Oberg — but she knows she’s there to get trolled, too. And some of them give her pretty fucking hilarious answers! Oberg starts by asking, “Why are you here?” And she gets stuff like this in response:
HYPEBEAST: “I’m trying to get this T-shirt of Mitt Romney.”
OBERG: “I think it’s Morrissey.”
HYPEBEAST: “Yeah, I know.”
OBERG: “Do you like Morrissey?”
HYPEBEAST: “I’m sorry, who?”
OBERG: “The guy who’s on the shirt?”
HYPEBEAST: “I can’t tell you what he did in life, but he made me a couple of dollars today, so I appreciate the man.”
The best exchange is the one that closes out the segment, which serves to inflame haters while simultaneously silencing them. Watch the whole thing below, and if you wanna cop the shirt? Try eBay.