Supreme, the popular streetwear brand, has been criticized by some people on social media for rejecting t-shirt designs that featured images of lynching and slavery. The designs were proposed by Tremaine Emory, a former creative consultant for Supreme, who recently resigned from the company citing racism and systemic issues.
Emory Reveals Why He Left Supreme
Emory, who is also the founder of Denim Tears, a clothing line that explores Black culture and history, shared his reasons for leaving Supreme in an Instagram post on Tuesday. He said that he wanted to collaborate with visual artist Arthur Jafa on a project that would include images of violence against Black people and Whipped Peter, the enslaved man who escaped from a plantation in 1863 and became famous for his photograph showing the scars of whipping on his back.
However, Emory said that James Jebbia, the founder of Supreme, vetoed the idea and told him that he was “racially charged, emotional, and using the wrong forum” by bringing up systemic racism in a meeting. Emory said that Jebbia agreed to change Supreme after he resigned, but he doubted his sincerity.
“I wanted to work with supreme to change these things and instead I was told I was racially charged, emotional, and using the wrong forum by bringing up systemic racism in a meeting when I was asked if we should work with a black female artist whilst this jafa project was secretly shutdown without anyone talking to me,” Emory wrote. “That’s why I resigned…james agreed with all of my points and said he’s gonna change supreme… he’s gotta stand on what he said to me and the whole c suite and head of design gotta stand on what was said.”
People React to the Rejected T-Shirt Designs
Emory also revealed in his post that one of the few Black employees in the design studio, who had quit Supreme before him partially because of his treatment, did not think that the t-shirt designs were appropriate because of the depiction of Black men being hung and Whipped Peter. Emory said that he respected his opinion, but he wanted to use the images as a way of educating people about the history of racism and oppression.
On Thursday, people on Twitter began to share their thoughts on the rejected t-shirt designs, with some agreeing with Emory’s vision and others questioning his motives and taste. Some people argued that the images were too graphic and traumatic to be worn as fashion statements, while others praised Emory for trying to raise awareness and challenge the status quo.
Here are some of the tweets from different perspectives:
- “I respect Tremaine Emory for wanting to educate people on Black history through his clothing but those Supreme t-shirts with lynching and slavery images are not it. That’s just trauma porn and exploitation.”
- “Tremaine Emory is a genius and a visionary. He wanted to use Supreme as a platform to expose the horrors of racism and slavery that are still affecting us today. Those t-shirts are powerful and provocative. Shame on Supreme for silencing him.”
- “Those Supreme t-shirts with lynching and slavery images are disgusting and disrespectful. How can anyone think that’s cool or fashionable? That’s not educating people, that’s just making money off Black pain.”
- “Those Supreme t-shirts with lynching and slavery images are brilliant and brave. They show the reality of what Black people have endured and overcome. They are not meant to be comfortable or pleasing. They are meant to make you think and act.”
Supreme Has Not Responded to the Controversy
Supreme has not issued any statement or comment regarding Emory’s resignation or the backlash over the rejected t-shirt designs. The company has been known for its controversial and edgy collaborations with artists, musicians, celebrities, and brands in the past, such as Damien Hirst, Marilyn Manson, Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Oreo.
However, some people have accused Supreme of being hypocritical and opportunistic for rejecting Emory’s project while profiting from Black culture and aesthetics. They have also called for more diversity and representation in the streetwear industry, which has been dominated by white men.