Streetwear brand Supreme has bought ads on an undisclosed number of MetroCards, and because the company's products are coveted in large part for the Supreme logo and the hype stoked by scarcity, the cards themselves are causing a subway-station-clogging frenzy among collectors and resellers.

Released on Thursday at the company's SoHo store as part of its spring/summer line, the MetroCards initially sold for $5.50, with two fares on each.

The cards probably would not have drawn larger notice had the MTA not also made them available at select subway stations on Monday, word of which spread like wildfire among New York's hypebeasts and hypebeast enablers.

"I knew that the MetroCard was going to be a good item, but I didn’t expect it to be anywhere but the Supreme store," said Andre Arias, who has made a living reselling clothes as Sole Street Sneaker Co, with a focus on Supreme, for the past 6 or 7 years. "It was sort of an after-thought with everything else that was dropping this season."

Yesterday, though, the MTA tweeted that the card would be available at certain then-undisclosed locations.

"It opened up a whole other world," Arias said, speaking as a reseller. "Suddenly you could get enough to make it worth your time, dollar and time spent-wise."

The 11:24 a.m. announcement sent Arias and his helpers scrambling to figure out which stations were carrying the cards. An hour and 20 minutes passed before the MTA listed them. Still, there were hurdles.

"Every station has six, seven vending machines. It was a whole process" of trying to figure out which contained the cards, Arias said.

Eventually, kindly MTA workers pointed the Supreme seekers to the specific machines that had been stocked with the cards, he said. But because the Supreme cards were loaded on top of boring regular MetroCards, devotees still had to wait for a glimpse of that sweet red box, or take their chances buying several cards in a row in hopes of tapping a vein.

Only Union Square has yielded fruit so far, Arias said. When word got out, the line got much longer.

"The crazy thing is, it wasn’t bad until the cops got there" at around 4 p.m., Arias said. "There was a crowd of people, yes, but there was no commotion, there was no fights, there was no screaming or arguing. Everybody was trying to keep as relatively calm as possible so we could try to keep getting as many cards out of the machine as possible."

He continued, "I don't think the cops even understood what was going on. We tried to explain to them, 'No, this is the machine that we need, because this is where it's at.' One of the cops even offered, 'Yo, listen, I'll open the gate and you can all go through. I don't care, I just need you outta here.' We're trying to explain to the cop, 'We don't want to get on the train. We just want MetroCards.' There was some frustration on the cops' part."

That's when the barricades came out, and officers began pushing people with them, Arias said.

"I hate that the video makes it look like we were all out there being savages, fighting each other for MetroCards," he said. "We were all pretty calm that the machine had at least 100 MetroCards and we'd all be fine."

No arrests were made, according to the NYPD press office.

The Supreme machine in Union Square was a credit card-only machine, and limited people to 10 transactions per card. Fortunately, Arias had five credit cards on him, so he was able to purchase 50 MetroCards, each with the $5.50 minimum on them.

Arias said the Union Square machine ran out of the Supreme cards at 6:30 this morning. It's unclear if it'll be restocked, and an MTA tweet last night said the agency "may be sold out of Supreme Metrocards until we can replenish. Check back in a day or so." The cards were/are supposed to be available, while supplies last, at the following stations:

  • Broadway-Lafayette
  • 125th Street
  • Queensboro Plaza
  • Marcy Avenue
  • Atlantic Avenue
  • Prince Street
  • Spring Street
  • Union Square


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The shelf life for Supreme resale is short, because as the release date grows more distant and the amount of physical items in the world increases, demand diminishes. Still, some resellers are seeking upwards of $100 on Ebay, and Arias is currently getting around $50 a card. Commenters on resale accounts are expressing interest from places as far-flung as Indonesia and Mexico.

The MTA won't disclose how many Supreme cards it's making, and the company didn't respond to an email seeking comment. One-sided MetroCard advertising runs of 50,000-124,999 cards cost the advertiser 51 cents a card, according to the MTA's rate sheet.

Supreme maintains its luster in large part by limiting its clothing releases to blink-and-you'll-miss-it online sales and just 10 brick-and-mortar stores worldwide. Arias said he doesn't expect the MetroCard to make it online or to the other stores.

Founded in 1994, Supreme jacked the aesthetic of artist Barbara Kruger, known for her collages featuring white-on-red messages in Futura font criticizing capitalist monoculture, laid over stark black-and-white images. You may also recognize the look from the anti-capitalist sci-fi movie They Live and the anti-capitalist street art-moniker-turned-clothing-brand Obey, created by Shepard Fairey. In 2013, Kruger responded to news of Supreme suing an artist for copyright infringement by calling the company "a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers."

In recent years, Supreme has made headlines for, among other things, releasing a branded brick, bolt cutters, and crowbar, now reselling for $90, $100, and $150 respectively.

Arias said that Supreme fans get a bad rap in the media:

It’s just cool shit at the end of the day. It’s cool to have. it’s cool to collect. It's just like, "Yeah, I got that item that's super hard to get." People collect Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, and pay absurd amounts of money for it—comic books, all that mess. It’s the same thing. It's an item for a collector to have. It's something that someone needs in their collection. If a guy collects Supreme in Canada or Japan, it doesn’t matter that he can't use that MetroCard, it doesn't matter that that won't get him on a train or bus in that location. It's just to have it. If anything, that makes it cooler to have because it’s not something that's for that area.