Nowadays, Supreme has the power to pretty much work with anyone. With a Louis Vuitton collab under their belt and a whole lot more just around the corner, it’s easy for the skateboard shop and clothing brand to stick the current hottest celebrity on one of its iconic Portrait Tees and call it a day.
However, it’s not that simple, as the streetwear imprint doesn’t feature just anyone on their tees, but only individuals they’re genuinely a fan of. From rappers to rockstars, boxers to artists, skaters to puppets, Portrait Tees can often be quite surprising, but it always keeps people guessing which celeb is going to star on the next one, and here’s a brief history of how it all began.
Wu-Tang Clan’s MC Raekwon was the first celeb to star in the now legendary Supreme Portrait Tee series back in 2005. Accompanying The Chef was his bodyguard, a Louis Vuitton messenger bag, an uzi, and oddly, a Tickle Me Elmo, which was the shit back in the day. Back in 2005, Supreme didn’t even have a proper website, so its first ever Portrait Tee was released in New York City, Los Angeles, and Japanese stores with no prior announcement.
The following year, Supreme recruited Dipset’s Juez Santana and Jim Jones as their Portrait Tee subjects. Both donning the classic white and red Supreme Bogo tee, with plenty of bling to boot, renowned photographer Kenneth Cappello recalled that Jones wanted to get paid up front before he would come to his Midtown studio. “The vibe was kind of weird on set, a lot of weed and a lot of ego.”
After a duo of rap themed Portrait Tees, Supreme looked to James Jebbia’s beloved boxing for its next subject. Back in the day, Mike Tyson pretty much dominated heavyweight boxing from the late ’80s to the ’90s, and was never shy of controversy throughout his career. Born and bred in Brooklyn, Iron Mike was the third New Yorker to be featured for this iconic series, but the shoot itself actually took place in a Las Vegas hotel room.
Kermit the Frog
Considered by many to be one of the weirdest Portrait Tees, Supreme worked alongside Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop to feature none other than the Muppet-in-Chief himself, Kermit the Frog. Accompanying the tee was a six centimetre tall Kermit Kubrick figure produced by Japan’s Medicom Toy, which you may recognise from their signature BE@RBRICKs.
By 2009, the Supreme Portrait Tee series was considered by many as one of the most sought after clothing pieces of all time. Shot in January of that year, the tee features none other than New York’s Lou Reed. Sporting a pair of black aviators and a matching Bogo tee, the former Velvet Underground frontman stood in a stance that perfectly represented the downtown rebellious ethos that Supreme was founded on.
Prior to this shoot, Supreme was no stranger to featuring Kate Moss on their pieces, having been immortalised on three different designs in 2004, 2006, and 2008. However, in 2012, the duo decided to finally make it Portrait-Tee-official. Staring down the lens of photographer Alasdair McLellan, the British model donned a custom fit white Bogo and a leopard print fur coat, whilst holding a cigarette burning down to the filter.
Three 6 Mafia
In the same year, a Portrait Tee was released depicting not one, but two separate portraits with Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul and Juicy J. Interestingly enough, the duo were the first non-New York hip hop act to star on a Portrait Tee. Accompanied by their trippy ‘Chicken Wing Recipe’ promo, the piece resurrected the now infamous purple Bogo tee, which hadn’t been produced since the late ’90s.
When SS15 was previewed with a wheat poster campaign featuring Canadian folk legend Neil Young, the world was equally excited as it was confused. In the same way to what Lou Reed did six years prior, Young went over the heads of some of Supreme’s younger fans. That being said, it showed that Supreme had a lot of love for a diverse range of artists, inspiring an entirely new demographic to discover something it may potentially have never been exposed to.
In 2016, English artist Morrissey came together with controversial photographer Terry Richardson for a timeless Portrait Tee. Staring straight into the lens whilst wearing a classic white Bogo and a single red ring, the shoot caused as much controversy as it did hype.
When movie director Harmony Korine cast Gucci Mane for the role of Archie in his 2012 film Spring Breakers, the duo struck up a friendship which saw the director visit Big Guwop’s Atlanta mansion following his release from jail last year. The short film debuted on Supreme’s site in July and showed the Trap God walking around his crib in a floor length white fur coat over his simple white Bogo. Hyped on the thought of a Gucci Mane Portrait Tee, fans had to wait another four months from the video’s debut to see an actual item of clothing.
Back in 2013, a bunch of photos surfaced online of what appeared to be an official photoshoot with none other than Nas. Rocking the infamous red on white tee, the online community lost its mind and most presumed this was going to be the SS14 portrait tee. Sadly, nothing came of the shoot, until this year when Supreme finally dropped the Nas Portrait Tee as part of its Fall/Winter 2017 collection. Selling out in seconds, the piece features Nas Escobar wearing the same white tee he rocked back in 2013, and a green jacket to boot.
And that’s that! From MC Raekwon all the way back in 2005 to Nasty Nas in 2017, we’re looking forward to see who Supreme will feature on its next Portrait Tee. Who do you think the skatewear imprint should recruit? Have you copped any of the iconic Portrait Tees? Let us know in the comments section down below, and be sure to keep it locked at Above The Sole for the latest and greatest in streetwear!