Sustainability can sometimes feel hopeless in a city like Tokyo. Individually-wrapped fruit and vegetables, constant reportage of irresponsible plastic trash disposal, and of course: fast fashion. It may feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. But we must do all we can—no matter how little our individual contribution is. The Superiors, a clothing brand based in Baltimore, the United States, and Tokyo, Japan, is here to remind us of this positive affirmation. Founded in 2014 by Miles Davis and Ulysses Richmond, they spread a message of growth and courage: “We aren’t superior to others, we are superior to ourselves and who we used to be.” The COMM sat down with Miles of The Superiors to discuss their mission, their inspirations, and their Earth-saving production processes.
Please introduce The Superiors! How did the brand come about?
The Superiors came about when my co-founder, Ulysses Richmond, and I were in Baltimore around 2011. We were super into streetwear brands at the time like Stüssy, Diamond Supply, and The Hundreds. Originally, our name was Boys On The Superior Side, representing this idea of two young guys from Baltimore who were going to beat whatever odds that we had in front of us to make that idea into a reality. We had no design skills at the time and went to a designer in Baltimore to make our logo for us. We told him we needed something iconic, a logo that was gonna last forever. It was then he suggested we should be “The Superiors”. We thought it was a bomb idea, he made the logo for us, we got it trademarked, and we’ve been going by “The Superiors” ever since.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from all over. Some artists we get inspiration from are Pharrell, Chase N Cashe, and Curren$y. One of my favourite brands is Stüssy, so that was my idea of what I wanted The Superiors to be like when it first came into creation. Moreover, we get a lot of inspiration from Baltimore and brands that exist there, also from traveling to other countries and seeing the fashion and colours there.
What was the development process behind your “Balance is the Way” and “Here to Save the Planet” designs?
[For “Here to Save the Planet”], at first the Earths were hand drawn. Then, I decided to use a font that could add to the streetwear style of the brand whilst keeping the message environmental. Next, the fire came because it was summer and it was extremely hot, and it was predicted to be the hottest summer on record. It looked good, but I didnt wanna stop there because it highlighted a problem and not a solution. That’s when I threw the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] on the back.
It also happened to be around the time when I found this really cool artist, Christiana Bahia. She made the Koi fish, all hand-drawn and painted. It was the perfect shirt for the summer collection because we had the “Here to Save the Planet” shirt and SDG shirt. We had to balance the two out, and that’s exactly what Koi fish stand for: balance. Thats why “Balance is the Way” was so dope.
Can you talk us through the production process at The Superiors?
We usually work with local suppliers in our towns whether in the USA, in Ghana, in South Africa, or in Japan, and printers who have access to larger company accounts that make shirts in bulk. Keeping things locally printed for us helps with our supplier relationships. We have done a few cut and sew items which were sourced throughout Asia (like our Denim bucket hats and other samples soon to come) since we are on this side of the world. It’s very tactful and specific working with cut and sew. In Baltimore, Ulysses embroiders and stitches all products himself, so he has worked on that skill to increase the brand value.
Do you think Tokyo has a future with sustainability—or is it too late?
I’m an optimist and I believe in the spirit of people, especially the youth, creatives, and big thinkers. I think sustainability is very much achievable. It just depends on time, willingness, and effort. There’s cool brands who are bringing awareness about sustainability to Tokyo and are doing a great job as well. It really does take all of us, though, to implement sustainable practices in our lifestyles and our businesses.
Any last words?
Be on the lookout for more Superiors gear dropping this year. We will be involved in more events, and looking to connect with as many Tokyo creatives as possible! Spread your Light, Eliminate Ego, and Be Superior.
Introduction and questions by Kay.