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What the hell happened to Supreme Italia?

It's been a quite period for the Legit Fake saga but the story is far from being over

What the hell happened to Supreme Italia? It's been a quite period for the Legit Fake saga but the story is far from being over
nss magazine

It was December 2018 when on the stage of the launch-event for the new Galaxy A8 in Shanghai, Samsung China's chief-marketing manager announced an extraordinary collaboration with "a fashion brande loved by the youngest": Supreme.
However, it was not James Jebbia - founder of the legendary New York skate shop - who walked on the stage but two clumsy individuals who represented a consortium of Chinese and Italian entrepreneurs who had brought Supreme Italia to China. 

This absurd theatrical scene was the international debut of the strange case of Supreme Italia and legit-fake saga known all over the world: the legal battle over the legitimate use of Supreme boxlogo between the IBF (International Brand Firm) - a company from the South of Italy that owns Supreme Italia - and Supreme, the New York brand that has most influenced the fashion world of the past twenty years.
Supreme did not legally registered - for a wide set of reasons - its logo in many countries (including China and Spain) where Supreme Italia has started selling products with the iconic red boxlogo without actually breaking any law.
The Legit Fake is complex and still on going topic in many courts around the world: it touches the copyright law, international intellectual property law and the moral integrity of a brand that was born on the streets but today represents the fashion of the Hype.

The news of the Samsung case spread to all newspapers and blogs all over the world, despite the legal battle between Supreme and IBF started in 2017 due to a photo taken at Pitti. In February 2018, Samsung China canceled - one day before the Chinese New Year - the partnership with Supreme Italia, and the glorious plan of the legit fake brand of opening more than 50 location around the globe seemed utopian. In the last months, coverage on the legitimate fake issue has diminished, favoring both the interest of Supreme NY (who does not want to talk about an uncomfortable issue caused largely by its own negligence) and Supreme Italia.
The legal and ethical question is far from being solved and with the imminent opening of the first-ever Italian Supreme store in Milan, it is very likely that we will also return to talk about Supreme Italia, for this reason, we are here to take stock on the status quo and possible scenarios for the legit fake saga.


The Supreme Italia's status quo

Since the end of the Samsung-gate, the only news on the issue dates back to April 2018 when Supreme Italia opened the second physical location in Shanghai: a three-story shop in one of the suburbs of the city. The other Supreme Italia store is located in one of the most elegant shopping streets of Shanghai amid the flagship stores of Nike, Uniqlo, and Adidas. These are the only two physical stores in China, which were opened in partnership with Chinese entrepreneurs.

In addition to China, Supreme Italia has various stores in Spain - Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Formentera, and Mallorca - where Supreme Spain brand has been registered and approved. From a legal point of view, neither Supreme Italia nor Supreme have an approved trademark registration in China, according to industry experts it is a long and complicated process and the trademark will hardly be recognized by IBF or Chapter4 (the holding company that controls Supreme NY) given the huge amount of Supreme counterfeit products in China.
In Spain IBF's legal situation in Spain is quite solid since the tradermark Supreme Spain was registered before Chapter 4's application for the trademark Supreme.

In Italy, however, the matter is more complicated: at the moment Supreme Italia cannot operate in Italy since the ruling of the Court of Milan who sentenced IBF for parasitic competition against Chapter4. However, IBF seems to have the intention to attempt all possible appeals against Chapter4 to use the red box logo. Despite the ban on Supreme Italia's products, in some stores around Italy, many readers of nss magazine have reported the presence of Supreme Spain items, which are under the same ban.
The already complicated situation is getting worts thanks to the others-'Supreme Italy' brands that joined the legit-fake scheme replicating the IBF operation by registering "Supreme-something" brands and then selling products with the box logo. The most sensational case was perhaps Supreme Italfigo, which also registered the brand in Germany.


Future scenarios

The upcoming opening in Milan of the first Supreme store in Italy will be a decisive and symbolic moment in the Legit Fake saga. The Milan's store will be the thirteenth physical store of Supreme in the world - the third in Europe - which will definitely mark the Italian territory in favor of Supreme NY.
James Jebbia probably underestimated the issue of Legit Fake in the beginning, thinking that it was a classic fake story and not a real box-line climb. Now thanks to the influence of the Carlyle fund that bought 50% of the brand in 2017, the defensive strategy is getting more aggressive, with direct statement against IBF. Physical presence in Italy will be an important element from a legal point of view for the protection of the trademark, however, it will not change the situation in Spain as the intellectual property law refers to national and non-European laws.

In China, on the other hand, Supreme is unlikely to win the battle in court announced in the press releases: Supreme does not operate on Chinese territory (it does not deliver products and has no sales points) the only foothold in the worldwide recognition of the logo, which however for the history of Supreme it is itself debated. The hype fashion eclipse predicted by Virgil Abloh and confirmed by the trends on the catwalks and consumers will be another decisive factor, which paradoxically will play more with Supreme NY than with Supreme Italy. In fact, the incredible popularity of Supreme fueled by the reselling and hypebeasts on the market has changed Supreme's perception of the highest streetwear audience. Supreme NY seems to have lost the train of the New Luxury and many brands are riding this trend: choosing to position themselves rather than being in a more art-oriented market, completing a path that Jebbia began already in 1994 with the collaboration with Rammellzee and over the years with artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst. This approach will lower the hype on the box logo and consequently also on Supreme Italy.

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