Does the name Macropax ring a bell? If the answer is yes, then we salute you, as that was the online persona of Vic Huang from way back during the early Streething forum days. Vic, a Taiwanese living in Kuala Lumpur for the majority of his life, was regarded as one of the biggest sellers of hype sneakers and gear in Malaysia. He went on to co-found Boundlezz Unlimited before calling it quits and moving back to Taiwan in 2010.
He was faced with the task of building his life back from scratch as he had no friends or contacts, he was essentially a foreigner in his home country. Now, Vic runs Suprize, the biggest Supreme reseller store in Taiwan, with a product range that is up there with the best in the region. We caught up with him to get the full story.
Why open a shop solely focused on reselling Supreme?
This is a good question, as my partner also questioned me on why should we just put all our eggs in one basket, so I told them after being in this field for over 15 years, every brand reached its peak and went down – but not Supreme. Even if you wear it until it is faded or worn out, somebody will still buy it. NBHD, Visvim or Bape? Maybe, maybe not, but for Supreme definitely yes, there is truly no other brand that has been able to create this aura for so long. So I told him that from a business perspective, judging from past experience we wont ever lose more than maximum 30 percent of our cost price.
So what you are saying is that Supreme is a cash cow?
No, for us it is not, as we aren’t ordering directly from the brand or getting the goods at retail price as many would assume. We don’t get seasonal order sheets or much time to think things over, Supreme releases things every Friday, so it’s like a fight every week. We have to pay in advance for everything we want to trusted third parties and there is no guarantee items will be a hit. People think we make a lot as resellers but they don’t see the amount we have tied up in stock and the stuff that can’t sell.
Is there a way to guesstimate what will be a “hit item”?
Apart from the usual hype stuff like the Box Logo items, it is not easy as each market differs. For instance, the Boxing Gloves can go for USD2,000 and the Punching Bag can go up to USD7,000, so you would think the Boxing Robe would be a hit right? However, in Japan the robe wasn’t so popular so it doesn’t go for very much on the resale market.
So what makes Suprize different from other resellers around here?
The way Suprize store operates is that we bring in as full of a range as possible, the hype items as well as the stuff that people may or may not like, and we do it fast, we will have most new releases a week or so after they drop in Supreme stores. We aren’t the cheapest, but we also aren’t the most expensive. We are also very focused on customer service. Unlike over reseller stores, we allow people to try on the goods.
So whilst many online sellers that sell cheaper tell their potential buyers to come to Suprize to try on the sizing first, I welcome everybody and my staff wont be angry if you don’t buy. When these type of people come to my store, they get to see a huge amount of legit Supreme goods, that means there is a chance that I can sell something to them and convert them into my customers. Another thing is that I offer to buy back certain items at a fair price as long as the condition is still good.
Isn’t being on the 4th floor of an office building a bit of a disadvantage?
Technically, yes, but we have made it an advantage. To be honest, the only reason why we are here is because it used to be my partner’s old office and when we started the lease still had a year on it, so to save on initial costs we decided to just go with it. So the reason you need to buzz to get in is because that like most other units in this building, it really was an office, not because we think it’s cool (laughs).
Now, after building up a following through social media and word of mouth, our customers appreciate the privacy when they come here. It is easy to find too as the building is directly in front of exit 7 of the Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station. If I were to take a ground floor unit downstairs with the same amount of space, then I would probably be paying up to 10 times more for the rent.
Being a Supreme fan, do you find it tempting to keep everything for yourself?
No, I just collect things I like, mainly tees. The reason being is that is how I fell in love with the brand. I still remember back in 2004, resellers in KL were selling a Supreme tee for around USD70 and those from Japanese brands like NBHD or Undercover for around USD100. For comparison, a Stussy tee was USD30 and an Obey tee was just USD24. At that time, people had a mindset that American brands focused on graphics/design whilst Japanese brands focused on materials and quality.
Some people would ask why are you paying so much for a “cheap” USD28 tee, just pay a bit more for the Japanese brands, but I actually liked the thicker material and was fascinated by their diverse collaborations. When I was young I sold off a lot of good stuff because I needed money and now I am trying to buy everything back. I still remember my friend “helped” me to sell my almost mint condition Joy Divison tee for USD25. It still hurts (laughs).
You also have a lot of North Face collab stuff as well right?
Ah yes, there is a very good story to why I collect this series too. When I was staying in Malaysia, there was no need for a thick jacket as it is hot all year long. I also didn’t have money to go anywhere as I was putting everything back into my business, so after I returned to Taiwan in 2010, I only got to go to Japan for the first time the year after, sad right? (laughs). It was the 2nd of January and I went there with just a Uniqlo puffer jacket and it was friggin’ cold! Even when I layered up with whatever I had it was still freezing. So whilst walking around I was trying to see what cool people were wearing, and they all had big North Face jackets.
So when I went back to Taiwan, I promised myself two things: one would be to return to Japan every January, and the other would be to buy a North Face jacket to keep me warm. Then, Supreme released the leopard print North Face collab, and I thought the price at USD400 was almost the same as a normal North Face jacket in Japan, and it looked cool so I bought it.
Apart from keeping me warm I noticed that I was getting better treatment at certain shops in Japan because people really liked the jacket. Another thing, the next year someone offered me USD700 for it, the year after that USD1,000, now it is worth USD3,000. Where else can you buy a good jacket that can keep you warm in the freezing cold and retain its value even after you’ve worn it for a couple of years? There is nothing like this, and I do feel the products are really good and functional.
How about the lifestyle accessories, what do you like so much about them?
I like how stupid the stuff is. Seriously, they will do all these things that no one else dares to do. You could probably buy a lot of the stuff for cheap at Costco or a DIY store in America, but they will just surprise you. Like bricks, one brick will cost you USD200, do you know how much it will take you to build a house with their bricks? (laughs). Like the money gun that you see everywhere now, where did this come from? Strip club culture. Maybe people in America or Europe know about this, but in Asia they mostly don’t. So how did a lot of people find out about it? Supreme.
Why do you think people hate on Supreme?
A big factor for many is that they don’t like how expensive it has become now on the reseller market. Look at this Box Logo hoody here (bright purple with light blue Box Logo), in 2006 it was USD260 in Taiwan and nobody wanted it because of the colours. Now, trends have changed and I’m selling it for USD1650. A lot of people are pissed off at that but why didn’t they buy it when they had the chance? I’m sure that if everyone who wanted to get a Box Logo tee managed to get one at retail, they wouldn’t hate, but I’m very sure if that ever happened then the brand will already be beyond dead (laughs).
Suprize Store is located at: 106, Da’an District, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, 155, 4F-1, Taiwan, Taipei City. The easiest way to get there is by MRT, get off at Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station and come out of Exit 7. They’re open from 12.30pm – 10.30pm daily, follow them on Instagram @suprizestore.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jules @ Streething