Denim Tears x Arthur Jafa Fires Shots at Supreme


Original Story (04/23/24): Last August, Tremaine Emory had a very public split Supreme, stepping down as the brand’s creative director and citing systemic racism as the cause of his resignation.

One of the reasons Emory gave for his departure was the way that the higher-ups at Supreme handled a proposed collaboration with artist, filmmaker, and cinematographer Arthur Jafa. According to Emory, upper management cancelled the project without communicating with him and didn’t offer full visibility for the reasons behind the cancellation.

Almost a year later, Tremaine Emory is now linking up with Arthur Jafa for a new project under his own label Denim Tears. The first teaser image for the collab is a not-so-subtle dig at Supreme. Shot in a style similar to that of a Supreme lookbook photo, the image features a model (Tré from Neighbors Skate Shop) sticking up the middle finger and rocking a sky blue hoodie with a familiar all-over print.

This print reads “Systemic Racism Controls America.” The design is a flip on a Supreme hoodie released in 2007 adorned with the the phrase “Illegal Business Controls America.”

Supreme first used this phrase on a 2003 tee in reference to Igor Kotlyar, a Wall Street brokerw ho was arrested for committing fraud. A photo of Kotlyar’s arrest was featured in the New York Times, which showed the broker wearing a Supreme Box Logo tee as he was handcuffed and escorted by police.

Tré is also wearing a t-shirt from the upcoming collab that features an image of Jafa’s 2017 work LeRage, an altered rendition of The Incredible Hulk in a dark grayscale that acts as a commentary of blackness and cultural perception.

Denim Tears x Arthur Jafa “Systemic Racism Controls America” drops Friday, April 26th on and in-store at African Diaspora Goods in NYC. Check out the preview below.

Update (04/24/24): Tremaine Emory has now shared the full lookbook for the “Systemic Racism Controls America” collection. In it, we see more colorways of the Supreme parody hoodies as well as the LeRage tee and hoodie in multiple colorways.

We also see that the collection includes a graphic of Jafa’s Ex-Slave Gordon piece from 2017, which was originally proposed to be included in the cancelled Supreme x Arthur Jafa project. The “scourged back” photo of Gordon, or “Whipped Peter,” was one of the most widely circulated photos of the abolitionist movement during the Civil War and remains one of the most notable photos of 19th century US history.

Other tees and hoodies feature a photograph from the Omaha Race Riot of 1919, which Arthur Jafa previously featured in his 2013 video project APEX. The photo depicts a white lynch mob surrounding the burned and mutilated body of Will Brown.

Check out the complete lookbook below.


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