Tremaine Emory Is Leaving Supreme, Alleges 'Systemic Racism'

<p>Photo: WWD/Getty Images</p>

Photo: WWD/Getty Images

Tremaine Emory is exiting Supreme after a year and a half as creative director, alleging that "systematic racism was at play within the structure," Business of Fashion reports. The news was first reported by Complex.

The streetwear brand appointed Emory as its first creative director in February 2022. However, according to a letter of resignation obtained by BoF, the designer claims that Supreme senior management displayed an "inability to communicate" about why it axed a collaboration with artist Arthur Jafa, not offering "full visibility for the reasons behind it," which caused Emory "a great amount of distress" and led to his departure.

Supreme confirmed Emory's exit to BoF, but claimed that the collaboration with Jafa wasn't canceled. "We are disappointed it did not work out with Tremaine and wish him the best of luck going forward," the brand commented via a statement. Per Complex, Fall 2023 will be Emory's final collection for Supreme.

On Thursday morning, Emory posted about the news on Instagram, writing that he and the Supreme team weren't aligned on how to communicate his exit, with the brand allegedly refusing to characterize it as related to systemic racism.

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VF Corp (which also owns Timberland, The North Face and Vans) acquired Supreme in 2020, in a deal that valued the brand at $2.1 billion. However, its earnings have flailed a bit since: It reported a revenue of $523.1 million in the year ending March 2023, down from $561.5 million in the year before.

In a recent interview with Just Smile Magazine, Emory critiqued the current fashion system's late-stage capitalism design:

"I would caution kids who care about the validation of these big conglomerates and media giants, because these conglomerates are banks. LVMH is a bank. Kering Group is a bank. Paramount's a bank. This is late-stage capitalism. These institutions will finance a designer, an artist, a band, a director, a writer or whatever to make something to get more money than what they put in... If you seek their validation because so and so made you creative director, you're losing. In fact, you've already lost. If you seek validation, firstly, in yourself and secondly, in the community that you care about and who cares about you, you've got a chance to live a life without regrets."

Emory will continue designing through his own brand, Denim Tears, which he has described as "Supreme for Black people and anyone else who wants to celebrate or commemorate what we've been through."

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