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Supreme fashion: What it’s like to line up for a new streetwear drop Add to ...

The lineup in Manhattan’s SoHo neighbourhood goes around the block. This August afternoon, the Supreme store will serve 370 customers in a few hours. Most of them will spend thousands of dollars. It’s drop day for Fall 2016 merchandise.

“Does anything weird ever happen in the line,” I ask one kid.

“Yeah,” he says. “Once, someone got slashed.”

“Why would someone do that?” I wonder.

“They like material,” he says.

Twenty-one-year-old Donovan comes from the Bronx. “Up there we call it poppin’ when you dressing up,” he says. Donovan doesn’t dress up often though. He’s planning on reselling his Supreme purchases to buy school supplies. He flashes a thick wad of cash from his pocket that he hopes to multiply.

“Supreme goes hard,” young Johnny says. “They’re way more exclusive than other brands.” The limited merchandise fuels a black market, but Johnny is more into the aesthetics of the brand than the gambling aspect. “Donovan and I shouldn’t be getting along but we do,” he says. The friends represent the two distinct camps in the queue. Many are investing in Supreme as a get-rich-quick scheme. Smaller in number – and more stylishly turned out – are the guys who actually wear the clothes.

Todd, a smiling mountain of a man, guards the door. “Most of them are good kids,” he says. “Some of them cause trouble, because for them it’s a serious business.” But even with the most hotheaded door crashers, Todd is empathetic. “I respect where you’re coming from,” he says to one agitated shopper. “But you gotta let it go.”

The sales guys aren’t fazed. “This is normal,” one tells me. The manager is reluctant to talk to this journalist; the brand has an insider’s mystique to maintain.

Just then, a simply dressed young man walks out of the store with a bag of merchandise in one hand and his skateboard in the other. In one elegant gesture, he drops the skateboard onto the sidewalk, jumps on and glides away. Until the next drop…

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