Supreme MetroCard thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Design 1900 to Now, Room 76

Supreme MetroCard

2017
Artist/Maker

The MetroCard is the primary payment method for the New York City Subway and New York City Transit buses. Launched on 1 June 1993, the plastic card is a pay-per-ride method that has a magnetic strip allowing users to load with money, which when swiped operates turnstiles at subway stations and allows passage onto buses.

On 20 February 2017, Supreme collaborated with the MTA in conjunction with the launch of their spring/summer collection of clothing and accessories to produce a limited-edition branded MetroCard. The cards, available to purchase $5.50, came preloaded with two subway rides and displayed Supreme’s logo prominently on the reverse side of the design. These limited-edition MetroCards were distributed at selected subway stations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn - Broadway-Lafayette, Prince Street, Spring Street, Atlantic Avenue, Union Square, Marcy Ave in Williamsburg, Queens Plaza, and 125th street in Harlem.

Supreme, founded by James Jebbia, is an American skateboarding shop and clothing brand established in New York City on April 1994. The distinctive red box logo with "Supreme" in white Futura Heavy Oblique is argued to be largely based on artist Barbara Kruger's slogan-led collage work. Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) is an American conceptual artist and collagist, with much of her work a feminist critique of marketing and advertising visual language. Kruger’s work primarily uses black and white photographs overlaid with slogans using the Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed typefaces. Within the V&A collection is a carrier bag for Spanish department store Vinçon displaying a reproduction of Kruger's 1987 photo-collage Untitled (I shop therefore I am) (E.2830-1995), and a Polish-language poster first designed by Barbara Kruger to promote a ‘Pro-Choice’ march on Washington, DC, in 1989 (E.2217-1997).

Creator James Jebbia stating that the logo was “influenced” by Kruger though never intended to reappropriate her designs. Kruger is yet to take legal action against Jebbia or Supreme, however on 2 May 2013, in reply to complex.com’s request for comment on the Supreme vs Leah McSweeney lawsuit, Kruger responded to this non-consensual appropriation of her work. Kruger sent complex.com a blank email with the document ‘fools.doc’ attached, which contained the words ‘“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.” Laura McSweeney, founder of womenswear company Married to the Mob was engaged in the lawsuit as Supreme sued McSweeney for trademark infringement following Married to the Mob’s release of a T-shirt bearing the words ‘Supreme Bitch’ in white text inside a red box.

As well as clothing, shoes, skateboards and accessories, Supreme has previously released limited-edition, everyday objects with Supreme’s distinctive red and white branding, such as chopsticks and a toothbrush for the Fall/Winter 2017 collection, which sell out quickly and often fetch high prices on resale. According to The Guardian on 30 September 2016, a limited-edition brick from Supreme’s Fall/Winter 2016 line, retailed at $30, was once listed on eBay at $1,000 after selling out in a single day.

Due to Supreme’s reputation as a high-end, highly sought after street-style brand, the release of the MetroCard caused large and often unmanageable queues at all of the reported distribution locations. At one location, Union Square, the police were called to break up a large crowd that were attempting to buy multiple tickets. MTA and Supreme did not disclose the number circulated at the point of release, leading to speculation around the number actually released. This led to a secondary resale market emerging shortly after the MetroCards were announced. As reported by The Verge on 20 February 2017, prices for resale were found on e-commerce website eBay ranging between $50 and $999.97. More MetroCards were released at the chosen locations on the 21 February.

The Supreme MetroCard joins the Design, Architecture and Digital collection as an example of cult design, and a piece of design that talks to fan and resale culture which creates a secondary market for objects of desire.


object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
MetroCard with limited-edition Supreme branding.
Dimensions
  • Width: 8.57cm
  • Height: 5.40cm
Summary
The MetroCard is the primary payment method for the New York City Subway and New York City Transit buses. Launched on 1 June 1993, the plastic card is a pay-per-ride method that has a magnetic strip allowing users to load with money, which when swiped operates turnstiles at subway stations and allows passage onto buses.



On 20 February 2017, Supreme collaborated with the MTA in conjunction with the launch of their spring/summer collection of clothing and accessories to produce a limited-edition branded MetroCard. The cards, available to purchase $5.50, came preloaded with two subway rides and displayed Supreme’s logo prominently on the reverse side of the design. These limited-edition MetroCards were distributed at selected subway stations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn - Broadway-Lafayette, Prince Street, Spring Street, Atlantic Avenue, Union Square, Marcy Ave in Williamsburg, Queens Plaza, and 125th street in Harlem.



Supreme, founded by James Jebbia, is an American skateboarding shop and clothing brand established in New York City on April 1994. The distinctive red box logo with "Supreme" in white Futura Heavy Oblique is argued to be largely based on artist Barbara Kruger's slogan-led collage work. Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) is an American conceptual artist and collagist, with much of her work a feminist critique of marketing and advertising visual language. Kruger’s work primarily uses black and white photographs overlaid with slogans using the Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed typefaces. Within the V&A collection is a carrier bag for Spanish department store Vinçon displaying a reproduction of Kruger's 1987 photo-collage Untitled (I shop therefore I am) (E.2830-1995), and a Polish-language poster first designed by Barbara Kruger to promote a ‘Pro-Choice’ march on Washington, DC, in 1989 (E.2217-1997).



Creator James Jebbia stating that the logo was “influenced” by Kruger though never intended to reappropriate her designs. Kruger is yet to take legal action against Jebbia or Supreme, however on 2 May 2013, in reply to complex.com’s request for comment on the Supreme vs Leah McSweeney lawsuit, Kruger responded to this non-consensual appropriation of her work. Kruger sent complex.com a blank email with the document ‘fools.doc’ attached, which contained the words ‘“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.” Laura McSweeney, founder of womenswear company Married to the Mob was engaged in the lawsuit as Supreme sued McSweeney for trademark infringement following Married to the Mob’s release of a T-shirt bearing the words ‘Supreme Bitch’ in white text inside a red box.



As well as clothing, shoes, skateboards and accessories, Supreme has previously released limited-edition, everyday objects with Supreme’s distinctive red and white branding, such as chopsticks and a toothbrush for the Fall/Winter 2017 collection, which sell out quickly and often fetch high prices on resale. According to The Guardian on 30 September 2016, a limited-edition brick from Supreme’s Fall/Winter 2016 line, retailed at $30, was once listed on eBay at $1,000 after selling out in a single day.



Due to Supreme’s reputation as a high-end, highly sought after street-style brand, the release of the MetroCard caused large and often unmanageable queues at all of the reported distribution locations. At one location, Union Square, the police were called to break up a large crowd that were attempting to buy multiple tickets. MTA and Supreme did not disclose the number circulated at the point of release, leading to speculation around the number actually released. This led to a secondary resale market emerging shortly after the MetroCards were announced. As reported by The Verge on 20 February 2017, prices for resale were found on e-commerce website eBay ranging between $50 and $999.97. More MetroCards were released at the chosen locations on the 21 February.



The Supreme MetroCard joins the Design, Architecture and Digital collection as an example of cult design, and a piece of design that talks to fan and resale culture which creates a secondary market for objects of desire.
Collection
Accession Number
CD.41-2018

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record createdAugust 6, 2019
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