Call it a trend in fashion marketing: Enlisting an older icon for an ad campaign is clearly now the thing to do. The recent gold standard for these moments is Joan Didion for Céline. Take arguably the coolest luxury womenswear label in the world, add one of the most idolized of woman writers, and voilà. If you had an Instagram account, or just a pair of eyes and a Wi-Fi connection, you probably saw it, even if you aren’t into fashion. Last month Saint Laurent joined in, announcing folk legend Joni Mitchell as the star of its spring 2015 campaign.
Now much-hyped skate-clothing brand Supreme is applying the formula for its mostly male audience. Its new ad features Canadian rock icon Neil Young, wearing one of its t-shirts and looking generally grumpy.
What’s notable about these pairings is the cult status surrounding the parties involved. There’s a cult of Céline as much as there’s a cult of Didion, but neither has a necessarily mass appeal. Céline is too expensive for the mainstream market, and the average reader won’t be trading in Fifty Shades of Grey for a literary work like Slouching Towards Bethlehem anytime soon. But that’s the point. Both are indicators of taste for those in the know. And since both cults share a similar interest in the ideal of a sophisticated, smart, stylish woman, it makes sense to bring them together. That synergy is the kind a brand can’t get from just signing up the biggest star Hollywood happens to have on offer at the time.
That’s why even though Supreme has worked with other A-listers before, including Kate Moss, Lady Gaga, and Kermit the Frog, this collaboration feels a little extra special. Supreme is easily one of the coolest brands around. It’s a streetwear label that doesn’t care to be part of the establishment, even though it’s become exactly that. Neil Young wields the same outsider status, despite being very well-entrenched in the rock-and-roll firmament. They’re both cool to a particularly devoted audience, and that’s chemistry.