Supreme Criticized Over Affiliations With Police, Military Suppliers (UPDATED)

The streetwear brand is partially owned by the Carlyle Group

Duck Camo hats from streetwear brand Supreme
A display at the art exhibit “The Rise of Supreme / 30 years of American urban culture.”
Chesnot/Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / June 5, 2020 12:31 pm

(Update 06/11/20: Monster Children has retracted its story and explained the ownership confusion and history between the Carlyle Group and Combined Tactical Systems. You can read that statement here. A list of Carlyle Group investments —which does include defense investments, but as we previously noted is part of an extremely wide portfolio of clients — can be found here).

Supreme is a streetwear brand with over two decades of history that just made a $500,000 contribution to Black Lives Matter, Equal Justice Initiative and other like-minded causes.

Dig deeper into the brand, however, and you find a company with a troublesome ownership group very much at odds with the brand’s purported ethos.

As Monster Children originally pointed out (Editor’s note 6/11/20: Again, reminder that this information was been updated and retracted by the original publication) Supreme founder James Jebbia sold half the business to The Carlyle Group in 2017, a global investment firm with ties to the defense industry — including ownership of Combined Tactical Systems, a company that (as MC suggests) “specializes in the manufacture of military and police equipment such as tear gas canisters, flash grenades, breaching munitions (rubber bullets), and handcuffs.”

Also, it’s well worth your time to read the comments on Supreme’s Instagram page, where several people point out the brand’s ownership issues.

Carlyle, which does offer a wide portfolio, released a statement on May 31 announcing they would match employee donations to the Equal Justice Initiative, Southern Poverty Law Center and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

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