Takashi Murakami is a Japanese artist best known for his paintings, sculptures, animations, and fashion collaborations. His colorful artwork is instantly recognizable, typically featuring his iconic smiling flowers, skulls, and cartoonish characters. Over the years, Murakami’s art has found its way into pop culture and the streetwear. His work can be found in the Museum of Modern Art, on Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts album cover, on Louis Vuitton bags, as well as on ComplexCon’s official merchandise.
For his most recent collaboration, Murakami worked with Supreme on a box logo tee to raise money for HELP USA, an organization that supports youth and families facing homelessness. Vibrant flowers and skulls layered on top of one another serve as the background for the box logo, which is covered with white lettering. Murakami’s logo and copyright name can be found on the back of the shirt, along with the message: ‘COVID 19 Relief Fund 2020’. Since all Supreme stores are currently closed due to the pandemic, the shirt was only available online.
The tee released on Friday, separate from the weekly drop on Thursday. With hundreds of thousands of people in the US and Canada, if not millions, trying to purchase an estimated 17,000 shirts, the website was an absolute mess. For many people, the webshop did not upload with the shirt until nearly 11:01, a rather lengthy delay for the Supreme’s typically punctual releases. For those who actually saw the shirt available before it sold, it is likely that they were unable to successfully checkout, either due to card-declines or website lag.
Many people were upset that Supreme limited the amount of stock to just under 20,000 even though it was a fundraising release. Some pointed out that the brand would have been able to raise twice as much if they had simply increased the amount of stock or done a raffle for the shirt. Considering the incredibly high demand, if each person seeking to purchase the box logo tee had to pay a certain amount to enter the raffle, the brand could have raised millions. Supreme announced that they would be donating 100% of proceeds, however, it was not specified whether this would include the gross or net income from the shirt. As it turns out, the shirt generated $1,052,040 in sales and all of it was donated to HELP USA. People can complain that Supreme did not do enough, but is still respectable that the brand donated all the revenue and swallowed production costs.
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HELP USA is deeply grateful to @supremenewyork for donating $1,052,040 in sales of their relief T-shirt to HELP USA's #COVID-19 Emergency efforts and services for homeless families and individuals. This incredible gift comes in a time of our clients' greatest need and supports our work nationally to provide the most vulnerable with a safe place to call home, food, and essential services during this crisis and beyond. #HELPHeroes #HELPisHere #dogoodfeelgood
There is also something to be said about the reselling of a fundraiser shirt because none of the money from sales on third-party marketplaces will be going towards the original charity. After the item sold out on Supreme’s web-shop, those who had gotten their hands on the shirt were selling it for as much as $800 on StockX and eBay. It is rather ironic that only $60 from the original sale will be going to HELP USA, while the other $700 will be going into the pockets of resellers. StockX acknowledged the absurdity of this situation and declared that they would be donating proceeds from sales to HELP USA. It is unclear how much will actually be donated, but it can be assumed that they will set aside a portion of profits from fees on the t-shirt for charity. I personally think that StockX and other marketplaces should give sellers the option to donate a percentage of the profit from their sale to HELP USA. I believe that resellers should be able to sell this item just as they would any other, but since they are profiting off something meant to raise money for charity, it makes sense that they should help out with the cause and donate some of their own proceeds as well.