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  • Jonathan Shiek

Supreme Under Fire For Using Thai Monk’s Picture As A Clothing Design

This isn’t the first time a billion-dollar fashion company comes up with something so insensitive and ignorant. We had Prada’s merchandise advertising blackface caricatures, Gucci retailing turbans, which are meant to be religious Sikh headwear, and the list goes on. Now, it’s Supreme’s turn to grab the headlines…for all the wrong reasons.

Recently, Supreme released their 2021 Spring/Summer collection, and people were baffled to see Luang Phor Koon Parisutho, a late Thailand monk, on their designs. Luang Phor Koon Parisutho a famous Thailand monk who died at the age of 92 due to tuberculosis and other health complications.

Followingly, the monk’s body was donated for the study of medical students at Khon Kaen University. In January 2019, a royally sponsored cremation of his body took place at Khon Kaen with the presence of thousands of his worshippers.  

Supreme decided to feature this monk in their apparel titled Blessings Ripstop Shirt. It has a picture of the monk squatting and smoking. Furthermore, many religious symbols from mystical yant script encircle the photo. There are several reasons why this is wrong.

Firstly, Supreme is a brand that does not represent nor reflect the monk and his values in any way. Hence, it doesn’t make any sense to have the monk featured in a skateboarding lifestyle brand. Moreover, the excessive use of religious symbols out of context is not acceptable. 

“If it’s for a public event for a good cause, I wouldn’t object. But this is a clothing brand, a private business, and they didn’t even ask for our permission to use it”—Boonterd, the monk’s nephew.

Secondly, the picture is said to be captured in the early 2000s. It was then printed on clothes and sold for the fundraising of a temple in Nakhon Ratchasima province. According to the temple’s committee, Supreme “stole” the monk’s image because they have not received any request for permission.  

If you thought Supreme’s marketing team stopped it with the monk, they didn’t! Their collection also includes Saint Michael (a religious figure), Muhammad Ali (the famous boxer), Che Guevara (a guerrilla leader), and many more. Supreme has yet to reveal their side of the story or take any actions, so I guess we’d have to wait and see.  

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