On Feb. 16, Tremaine Emory was named the creative director of Supreme. It marked the first time the VF Corp-owned streetwear giant had publicly confirmed an external hire for the position. Thus, it was a move that was celebrated by many, and rightfully so.
Emory has a proven track record of using clothing as a vehicle for meaningful storytelling. His brand Denim Tears makes various references to the Black experience. A 2021 project with Champion paid homage to the Black activist and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, for example. Perhaps the most notable items thus far have been his Cotton Wreath jeans with Levi’s. The cotton wreaths printed across each pair are a reference to slavery.
“The world kinda don’t need more clothes. So, I think clothes should have some type of meaning, a reason why,” Emory tells Complex about his motives for communicating these types of messages through his clothing. It is this mindset that has people excited about what Emory will create at Supreme, a brand that has often referenced various areas of Black culture with its collections but not always completely followed through on educating the consumer about those touchpoints. “I thought making clothing about the plight, glory, all parts of being part of the African diaspora was a good place.”
Emory’s future with Supreme is something everyone is still curious about. Not much has been said aside from the initial announcement by either party. But it isn’t the only thing Emory is working on right now. At the top of the month, he debuted his latest Denim Tears collection, an offering consisting mainly of jeans and striped rugby sweaters bearing imagery like Black Jesus and peace signs made of cotton. This past weekend, Emory joined BMW in the desert for the first weekend of Coachella alongside a handful of other ambassadors to celebrate the unveiling of a custom BMW iX car wrap inspired by Doja Cat’s Planet Her.
While Emory was unable to speak on his new role with Supreme, the designer did have a moment to talk with Complex at the event about his thoughts on using the term “streetwear,” the success of his Cotton Wreath denim, his essential items, and more. Check out the full conversation below.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)