2005: First Trip to Japan and Bidding War
Mikhail: There was this weird point in time when we started getting a lot of interest from Japan, and American streetwear has these roots in Japan where it’s almost like you start up in America and get popular in Japan, so there were about three interested parties who were competing to become our Japanese distributor. Prior to that, we were just selling to these guys who were Supreme resellers, I think. They were just buying our stuff and reselling it in Japan, and it was clearly growing in popularity. We got it in our head to say, “Forget it. Let’s spend all the money that we don’t have and go to Japan.” It was Greg, Eric and me at the time. I had been to Japan once before, and it was Greg’s first trip. The plan was that we were going to go out there and check out all these stores, and meet with all the different people who were interested in us.
Greg: Japan was our number one customer, so we spent all the money we had to go out there, but it gave us the clarity of what the scene in Japan was like. Our trip out there was also why we were and are one of the most established streetwear brands in Japan right now. It’s why we have a store. We went out there early on, really got on the street, and really tried to see how things worked out there.