A lot of you may have noticed the seismic cultural explosion created by the clothing brand “Supreme” in the last couple of years. Considering the ridiculous wealth and popularity the brand has garnered of late (the Supreme company is estimated to be worth $1 billion dollars as of 2017), it is hard to believe that Supreme came from quite humble beginnings. Founded in 1994 by US entrepreneur James Jebbia, Supreme began as nothing more than a small, offbeat clothing store located in downtown Manhattan. Catering mainly to skateboarders, the first Supreme store was a paragon of counterculturalism; an anti-establishment haven where skaters could ride their skateboards freely through the aisles as they perused shelves.
It is this quaint origin story that makes it especially bizarre to observe the capitalist monolith which Supreme has become twenty-three years down the line. With its sharp rise to international notoriety, it was perhaps inevitable that the Supreme brand lost its cult status, and became something different entirely. Today, Supreme’s once coveted ties to skate/punk culture have all but dissolved. Instead, the brand has come to represent a whole new demographic. Collaborating with fashion superpowers such as Nike and Louis Vuitton, Supreme has become the mainstream fashion icon that it once opposed; a symbol of wealth and excess possessed only by the elites of our society.
Nowadays, the typical champions of the Supreme brand are far from your average street corner skateboarders who were its initial target demographic. Today, Supreme can be seen being sported almost exclusively by Instagram rich kids, teen Popstars, and the odd twentysix year old Silicon Valley CEO named Chad. It’s safe to say that Supreme has lost pretty much all of what made it a cool and unique brand to begin with. Its original message of individuality and nonconformity has been suffocated under an avalanche of dollar bills and vapid endorsements, leaving Supreme to take its seat at the table with all the other identical, elitist, boring fashion labels.
So, just when I was beginning to lose faith that any clothing brand would ever sustain itself while remaining spirited, authentic and affordable – along comes Nathan Zed with his clothing line ‘Good Enough’. Nathan is an accomplished YouTuber, specialising mainly in satirical comedy and sketch videos. However, he is also known to deliver sincere and relevant social commentary; utilising his platform to discuss and provide education on issues such as racial inequality and mental illness. In the past, Nathan has spoken of his own struggles with self-image and self-love, detailing the struggle he had with embracing and expressing his Ethiopian heritage while growing up. In a separate video titled “You’re Not Good Enough”, Zed gives a moving but hilarious account of his struggles with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt in his everyday life, and gives advice to those suffering from the same toxic feelings. The relatable honesty and positive message expressed by Zed in this video led to it becoming widely popular, leading to what would become known as the ‘Good Enough’ brand.
The merchandise was announced by Zed to his followers via a YouTube video, in which he explained that he only ever wanted to sell merchandise if it was a product that would make him and others “feel good”; not simply his name or face slapped on a t-shirt (which is as good as it gets with the majority of celebrity merchandise). Nathan’s clothing line consists predominantly of t-shirts, minimalist in design, featuring the words “Good Enough” printed on the front in block capitals, sundered by a simple yet elegant illustration of a rosebud. The shirts are priced at a reasonable $22 (about €19), and come in a range of colours including black, yellow, and bright pink (you can get them online at store.dftba.com).
I was really blown away by these shirts when I saw what Zed was doing. It’s disappointingly uncommon to see clothing that is extremely stylish (or as Nathan puts it: “icy”) while simultaneously conveying a message of positivity and self-love. It seems like such a simple idea, even obvious. However, when you stop and think about it, it’s fairly unprecedented. Never (on a large scale, at least) has a clothing brand released products that promote mental wellbeing in the way that Zed is doing so. After witnessing what Nathan has done, and all the positivity and happiness that his clothing line has generated, it really highlights how vapid and devoid of meaning a lot of other clothing brands are nowadays. Why are we paying ridiculous prices for plain white t-shirts stamped with logos of brands that stand for nothing but their own exposure and economic growth? Appreciating an aesthetic is grand, and we all do it; but why worship and obsess over brands that offer nothing beyond that? Clothing is such a big part of a lot of our lives, so why not support guys like Nathan, and wear clothes that have something to say.