Samsung makes Supreme error, announces collaboration with street wear counterfeiter in Beijing
- Samsung announced a partnership with a company making legal Supreme fakes
- The real Supreme responded on social media to say there was no such collaboration
Much to the surprise of street wear fans and techies, Samsung announced a collaboration with street wear brand Supreme at the launch of its Galaxy A8s smartphone in Beijing on Monday.
But their delight was short-lived – it soon became clear the partnership is with a company making counterfeit Supreme gear instead of the authentic skateboard brand founded in 1994 by James Jebbia and based in New York.
Towards the end of the conference, which was live-streamed online, the head of digital marketing of Samsung China, Feng En invited two men, whom he introduced as the CEOs of Supreme, on stage.
The fact that both were Chinese was an instant giveaway (Jebbia is white and British). And as some sharp-eyed internet users noted, one wore a jacket from Supreme Spain, a legally registered and authorised brand that sells fake Supreme products.
The pair told the audience their company would be introducing crossover products with Samsung, and would be opening a seven-storey flagship store in Beijing as well as official stores on Chinese e-commerce platforms.
Supreme responded with a statement posted on Instagram Stories: “Supreme is not working with Samsung, opening a flagship location in Beijing or participating in a Mercedes-Benz runway show. These claims are blatantly false and propagated by a counterfeit organisation.”
The collaboration caused uproar among Chinese internet users, with many calling it a joke. “How shameless, it’s disgrace to all Chinese people,” writes one comment. “This shows Samsung’s attitude towards intellectual property,” writes another.
In response to the criticism, the digital marketing manager of Samsung China, Leo Lau, wrote on his personal Weibo account that the company is collaborating with Supreme Italia rather than the company in the US.
“Supreme NYC has no sales and marketing authorisation in China, but Supreme Italia has obtained product sales and market authorisations in the Asia Pacific region (except Japan),” he wrote. The post has since been deleted.
In a separate post, also now removed from his blog, Lau shared the link to an article on Hypebeast, Hong Kong-based street wear website, about an Italian court ruling against Supreme in its counterfeiting case against Supreme Italia and Supreme Spain, and urged people with questions to read it for reference.
Samsung did not respond to requests for comment. It is unclear whether the two Chinese men who took to the stage in Beijing are in fact representing Supreme Italia, which, along with Supreme Spain, is owned by a British company called International Brand Firm.
The company exploits a legal loophole by filing trademark applications for the Supreme name and box logo ahead of Supreme in certain countries, including San Marino and Italy, allowing them to sell what have been called “legal fakes”.