Skate-inspired California brand Supra is back with a bang following its takeover by K-Swiss Global Brands, part of the big-hitting E-Land Group. Showing at Jacket Required will be its new apparel line and the next edition of its famed Skytop shoe, the Skytop V, designed in conjunction with legendary LA skater Chad Muska, writes Tom Bottomley.
It had all gone a bit quiet on the Supra front when the California brand was bought by K-Swiss Global Brands, part of the multi-billion Korean conglomerate E-Land Group, in mid-2015. But, after a year and a half spent transitioning to the new ownership and planning the brand’s future, 2017 sees it re-emerge to refuel the skate and streetwear market, with more of a fashion edge.
Showing at Bright in Berlin, and then Jacket Required in London, buyers may want to take note of its brand new apparel line, featuring track pants and jackets, a collection of knits with colour blocking and bold prints, and some standout hoodies. Next to that sits the all-new edition of the Skytop shoe, the one that shot the brand to fame back in 2007. This one, the Skytop V, again in partnership with skate supremo Chad Muska, looks set to flip the brand’s trajectory once again. Having already appeared on the front cover of Sneaker Freaker, it has apparently received the best reaction from US retailers since the first Skytop came out.
Pascal Kamp, EMEA brand director of Supra (and sister brand KR3W), says: “We have a lot of new and exciting product introductions including the Skytop V, a fresh interpretation of a skate shoe and a very fashion forward design based on the classic model. We really tried to work on a new interpretation of a skate shoe by using different methods of construction, different upper materials and so on. The Skytop V is a perfect example of that. We worked closely with Chad Muska on his vision of the next Skytop in the franchise.”
“We have a lot of new and exciting product introductions including the Skytop V, a fresh interpretation of a skate shoe and a very fashion forward design based on the classic model.”
Though putting in more of a fashion flavour to the designs, Kamp says Supra is certainly staying true to its roots. “We believe in skate and we are born to skate. The mainstream fashion market is becoming more in tune with our skate heritage, and that widens our appeal. Our goal is that our footwear and apparel is as relevant on the high street as it is in the skate parks. It’s definitely aimed at the skateboarding kids who want to look good as well.”
Supra was founded in Southern California in 2006 by Angel Cabada and Scott Bailey. It fused fashion, music, art and street, while remaining firmly committed to its skateboarding roots. In 2007, the Skytop – Chad Muska’s signature shoe – brought Supra mass attention and influenced its meteoric leap from skateboard shoe company to global footwear brand. Once the Skytop was discovered, it became the must-have footwear of the Hollywood elite and the darling of the sneaker community. And the brand is now firmly back to recapture its former glory. “We are constantly listening to the consumer needs and ensuring we’re putting the right product in front of him and her,” says Kamp.
Some of the endemic skate companies are still struggling to compete with the athletic brands that now have a skate programme in their collections, so it’s important that Supra gets its next move right, and it’s clear there is a real new focus on design and distribution. This is the year that’s bringing in the changes to get retailers back for a second look.
The running category in footwear is also a growing one, with the introduction of the ‘Flow Run’ and ‘Winslow’ styles. And then there’s a strong cold weather winter boot selection, with the ‘Vaider CW’ being a key style. Another new addition is ‘The Method’, which takes design cues from the Skytop V, but has a lower price point. Boutiques and skate shops in the US have already reacted very positively to this new shoe.
Pascal says Supra has a leading position at core skate stores across the UK. “Next to that, we are working with several lifestyle independents who sell our ‘Estate’ and ‘Cornerstone’ collections. We also have visibility on the high street and online, selling products with retailers like ASOS, Soletrader and USC.”
Some new collaborations are in the pipeline in 2017, though they remain under wraps for now. In the past, the brand has worked with the likes of G-Shock, Lil Wayne and Corona. “We have a lot to show and tell to our customers,” comments Kamp. “That’s why we have decided to visit some European relevant trade shows in January, including Pitti in Florence, Bright in Berlin and Jacket Required in London. We will show the very best new pieces of our footwear and apparel range.”
So, in Kamp’s eyes, is skate firmly back on the map as a key look? “It’s obvious that the skate trend is not there,” he offers. “But, as a brand these days you need to be able to survive and offer a broader range of products, yet stay true to your heritage. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful products from competitors in different categories than their core category. As long as you listen to the demand from today’s consumer you can be successful. And, of course, you need to have a point of difference to your competitors.”
Supra has its own stores in Paris, New York, LA and Tokyo, though there are no plans for a UK store just yet. The Supra EMEA HQ is now based in Amsterdam, and a new UK focused sales team is currently being put together as the brand breaks a new dawn for 2017.