James Jebbia’s streetwear brand Supreme has sold a 50% stake in the business to the private equity firm The Carlyle Group for around $500 million, which would value the brand at around $1 billion. That makes the streetwear company the first to join the ranks of so-called unicorns like Uber, Snapchat, Spotify, Dropbox and other startups valued at over $1 billion.
Born in a shop on Lafayette Street 23 years ago and weaned on New York skateboard culture, Supreme now has 11 boutiques around the globe. The brand’s success rests, in part, on cultivating a niche audience of consumers interested in luxury streetwear. It often withholds supply of products to make sure that they retain the cool halo of exclusivity.
Now, Supreme will need to find ways to scale in order to meet investor demands while maintaining something of its street cred. (Perhaps conscious of that cred, Jebbia also sought to keep a previous 2014 investment, which fueled its retail expansion, under wraps.) Women’s Wear Daily, which first reported the new deal, says that Supreme’s projected earnings this year are $100 million, raising questions about what the company will do with its cash influx.
The brand’s been busy: This year, it has announced a new partnership with Louis Vuitton and a BAPE collection, and it recently opened a large new retail store—complete with a giant skate bowl—in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that once punky hood that’s undergone its own supreme transformation.ES