Samsung retreats from tie-up with 'fake Supreme'

SEOUL • Samsung Electronics is backing off an envisioned collaboration with a disputed version of streetwear label Supreme after drawing derision and condemnation from consumers.

The Korean electronics giant - regarded as one of the savviest marketers in technology - provoked outrage across social media after announcing it was tying up with Supreme, the New York design house founded by Mr James Jebbia and famed for its skateboarding and hip-hop aesthetic.

At a smartphone launch this week in China, a Samsung executive brought onstage a man he introduced as Supreme's chief, who then proceeded to outline - in fluent Mandarin - plans to open a flagship store and host a runway show.

It turns out, the tie-up actually involved Supreme Italia - a company the New York original has clashed with in court over copyright and accused of being a fake.

The US company was quick to disavow any collaboration with Samsung in a statement seen by Hypebeast, in which it reportedly called the claims "blatantly false".

Now, Samsung says it is reassessing the alliance.

"We are now reconsidering this collaboration and regret any concern this may have caused," Samsung said in an e-mailed statement.

The Korean giant would not say whether it knew about the dispute before its announcement - but it is no stranger to global design partnerships, having previously collaborated with household names from Swarovski and Giorgio Armani to even Hello Kitty.

The gaffe is another black eye for the world's largest smartphone maker, whose business has withered under the onslaught of Chinese rivals ramping up their own marketing offensives.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2018, with the headline 'Samsung retreats from tie-up with 'fake Supreme''. Print Edition | Subscribe