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Three conspiracy theories on Supreme's Burner Phone

Supreme Italia, Hypebeast and crime

Three conspiracy theories on Supreme's Burner Phone Supreme Italia, Hypebeast and crime

Supreme has dropped in October one of the craziest accessories ever: the SUPREME / BLU Burner phone.
This is an old-fashioned mobile phone produced in collaboration with BLU, the last American company that still produces this type of equipment, available in two colorways for the price of 60$.
However the Supreme/BLU Burner Phone marks one of very few times the brand has ventured into tech, making the nostalgic device a particularly curious drop for the brand’s growing Gen Z fanbase. It is not a smartphone, but a burner phone that is one of those phones that can more or less only call and send sms of which are full TV series with pushers and criminals - Breaking Bad, Gomorra and The Wire - because who uses them is not traceable and above all can easily get rid of them (you have in mind the scenes in which you remove the battery and break the phone? yes those are those).
In the last years, burner phones are coming out of production because some Silicon Valley startups are creating virtual burner phones with the aim of eliminating the physical object of the second phone, installing an app directly on the smartphone. It is not an easy task given the security checks, but the market requires it and since 2012 various companies have sprung up offering the same service, actually targeting the crime market.

Burner phones are an endangered object and, like all Supreme accessories, this one also has a magnetic appeal: it has a retro and non-conformist taste, a criminal aura and above all Supreme boxlogo.
However, the New York based brand has never produced accessories for the mere aesthetic taste: Jebbia used the production of accessories to shape Supreme's myth and the mystique.
The accessories represent the counter-cultural soul and skater of the brand founded in Manhattan in 1994, in each one is hidden a more or less explicit subliminal message: among them the most famous brick with Duchamp's quote boxlogo.
In short, every Supreme accessory maintains different layers of meaning and the SUPREME / BLU Burner phone is no exception, given the delicate moment that the brand is going through.


So why in the world Supreme produced a burner phone?

There are two main interpretations regarding the Supreme's accessories.
The first one stated that they all reference in some way to criminal activities.
The messy production of mostly apparently innocent accessories seems more sensible when analyzed under this lens: the Supreme x Mizuno children's baseball bat of the SS14 makes sense used in a robbery, the hiding-place Bible is a place perfect for drugs, pincers for picking a padlock and precision scales to weigh doses. In this sense the Burner Phone fits perfectly in this interpretation.

The second theory has something to do with the Hypebeasts, the current fanbase of the brand. The production of accessories has increased in quantity and fantasy since 2010, coinciding precisely with the change of fanbase and consumers of the brand from a niche of cool people towards a wider and younger target.
Supreme accessories are a good map of Supreme's parable and of the complex relationship - challenging or almost teasing - that the brand has with its fan base. Although Jebbia has repeatedly criticized the queues, the camp outs outside the Supreme stores, some of the accessories - like the portable chair, the wireless speakers, the water bottle, the torch, the metal tapperware - seem to be dedicated or inspired by the hypebeasts.
The SUPREME / BLU Burner phone goes all the way around: it's a tease for a generation obsessed by smartphones, a provocative invitation to get out of the virtual reality of Instagram in favor of the real one. Furthermore, burner phones are not only used by drug dealers or criminals: leaving no digital traces they have often been used even by scammers, the word used to refer to a scammer who deceives with false merchandise or even without merchandise. In short, Jebbia sells the instrument with which many Supreme fans have been screwed.


And what if Supreme Italia had something to do with it?

The third interpretation of the burner phone concerns the legal battle against Supreme Italia, the legit fake brand born in Puglia and then transplanted to Spain and China. Although the legal dispute between Supreme NY and Supreme Italy broke out in 2017, in December 2018 the scandal rebounded on all the world's newspapers when a collaboration between Samsung China and Supreme in Shanghai was officially announced. The collaboration never materialized because Samsung realized that it had confused Supreme Italia for Supreme NY and canceled the report at the beginning of January 2019.

Given the imminent Supreme's opening in Milan, the burner phone could be a veiled reference to that episode, underlining how the aesthetics of the Jebbia brand will never be represented by a smartphone but rather by an old mobile phone for drug dealers.