May 03, 2013 10:53AM

Ironically, Supreme Is Suing Married To The Mob for $10 Million

For trademark infringement regarding their 'Supreme Bitch' line.
Photo courtesy of Married To The Mob

Supreme founder James Jebbia is suing Married To The Mob for $10 million over trademark infringement. In 2004 Married To The Mob launched their 'Supreme Bitch' t-shirt, which featured an appropriation of Supreme's logo to act as a comment on a male-dominated streetwear subculture. "'Supreme Bitch' is one design of many; one slogan of many. And the use of the design has always been to make fun of the misogynistic vibe of Supreme and the boys who wear it," Married To The Mob founder Leah McSweeney writes on her blog

 

When the t-shirt was initially released, James Jebbia stocked it in his store Union, but now, almost a decade on, he's claiming copyright infringement. Supreme is even asking retailers like Urban Outfitters to stop stocking Married To The Mob's 'Supreme Bitch' line. "[She's] trying to build her whole brand by piggybacking off Supreme," he said when speaking with NY mag. "I thought it was just going to be a one-off. Now it's on hats, t-shirts, towels, mugs, mouse pads." 

 

Leah responds to this on her blog, saying, "Unlike some companies that blatantly rip-off other brand logos, Married To The Mob has always had its own identity and aesthetic by being an extension of my life experiences. I started this company when I was 22 and have come a long way without a piggyback ride from anyone."

The case is pretty ironic keeping in mind that Supreme's now-iconic logo — Futura Bold Italic text within a red bar — is actually based on the work of feminist artist Barbara Kruger. James Jebbia has acknowledged this in the past, and while Barbara Kruger hasn't commented extensively on others' appropriation of her art, she did tell Complex her thoughts on the Supreme versus Married To The Mob case. "What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers. I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce. I'm waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement." Barbara Kruger is not amused.

 

Supreme is a brand that has built its reputation around its riffs on pop culture — their first t-shirt in the early 90s featured a still of Robert De Niro in Taxi DriverWhile the label has collaborated with high profile artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and Keith Haring, they've also used their fare share of unsolicited imagery. "Supreme produces very limited runs of clothing that often sell out quickly, and most companies don't bother to lawyer up over 200 T-shirts. Condé Nast certainly didn't when Supreme put The New Yorker's mascot, Eustace Tilly, on hoodies and hats in 2011," NY mag points out.

 

"Bottom line is this: I don't think Supreme should be able to squash free speech or my right to utilize parody in my design aesthetic. It's one of the most powerful ways for me to comment on the boy's club mentality that's pervasive in the streetwear/skater world. The fact that Supreme is coming after MOB and me personally is just another example of the hostility that MOB — the first women's street wear brand — has faced from day one. And it's why the 'Supreme Bitch' message is so important... This isn't a fight I went out looking for, but I have no choice other than to fight back. Because right now, it's about more than just a t-shirt!" Leah writes on her blog.

"There's this one Barbara Kruger piece that says, 'Your comfort is my silence,' and I can't help but think that I'm being silenced by Supreme with this lawsuit. I don't have $250,000 to litigate this case, and they know that," she tells NY mag.

Ingrid Kesa

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