Samsung has found itself the subject of global criticism and ridicule after it was revealed that the tech giant will be collaborating with a fake Supreme brand based in Italy. The company revealed the partnership at a launch event for the Galaxy A8s phone in China, which was streamed on Samsung Mobile’s official Weibo account. At the event, two Chinese men — allegedly the CEOs of Supreme — appeared on stage to speak about their plans for establishing a presence in China, including opening a seven-storey flagship store in Beijing and planning a fashion show at the Mercedes-Benz Cultural Center in Shanghai. Internet observers, of course, were quick to note that the two men have no involvement in the real Supreme. So what happened here?
A few months ago, Supreme lost a legal battle in Italy against knock-off brands Supreme Italia and Supreme Spain. As a result, the two fake brands are legally allowed to sell counterfeit Supreme-branded products due to international trademark loopholes. The real Supreme brand has repeatedly tried to shut down foreign knock-off brands, but because the brand was never officially registered in certain parts of the world, fakes such as Supreme Italia are allowed to use the Supreme name and logo without any legal consequences.
The partnership between Samsung and Supreme Italia is apparently no accident. According to Engadget, Samsung China’s digital marketing manger, Leo Lau, posted a now-deleted post on Weibo that acknowledged and defended working with a fake brand. “Supreme US doesn’t have the authorisation to sell and market in China,” the post read. “Whereas the Italian brand got the APAC (except Japan) product retail and marketing authorisation.”
The real Supreme has been quick to respond, missing the following statement to Hypebeast: “Supreme is not working with Samsung, opening a flagship location in Beijing or participating in a Mercedes-Benz runway show. These claims are blatantly false and propagated by a counterfeit organization.”
It’s not immediately clear what type of products will come from the collaboration between Samsung and Supreme Italia, or when they’ll be released — or, at this point, if they’ll ever be released — but we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re priced similarly to items sold by the real Supreme brand. What is clear is that, following a recent incident in which Samsung was caught using a stock photo to fake the quality of portrait mode on the Galaxy A8 Star, this is yet another massive embarrassment for the company.