BANGKOK — A widely revered Buddhist monk who died in 2015 lives on… in the latest spring collection released by American clothing brand Supreme.
The “Blessings Ripstop Shirt” from Supreme preview features an image of Luang Por Koon along with magical yant, delighting many Thai customers – although the temple in the northeast where he resided said on Wednesday that his image was used without permission.
“When I first saw it, I had to rub my eyes to double check,” wrote Soul4Street, a street fashion page followed by more than 441,000 people.
“This means, we can’t miss buying one. Let’s wait and see how much the price will be at the next drop. If you’re planning to buy, keep that money in your hand. Sathu!”
The shirt comes in ripstop cotton fabric in three colors: camouflage, navy, and black. On the back is a yellow holy cloth that has a photograph of the monk squatting and smoking, one of the most popular pictures of Luang Por Koon.
The image is surrounded by several Thai incantation tattoo designs, or yant.
Despite the largely positive comments, not everyone was elated. Thawatchai Saenprasit, an accountant of Wat Ban Rai in Korat where the monk had been an abbot, said the American brand had not asked for permission from the temple for the usage of his image.
“Usually, if people were to produce shirts with his image, they have to ask the temple for permission first,” Thawatchai Saenprasit said. He said temple officials would discuss the matter further, and find out the brand’s “motivation” for putting the monk on their shirt.
Luang Por Koon Paritsuttho, who lived from 1923 to 2015, was admired for his preachings in which he simplified Buddhist messages for the masses. He also lived a humble lifestyle and spoke in a frank, informal language to the rich and poor alike.
From Wat Ban Rai in Nakhon Ratchasima, where he lived as the abbot, his fame eventually spread into a large national following. His audience was requested by many prominent figures, including high-profile politicians, businessmen, and even King Rama IX.
Luang Por Koon also presided over the manufacturing of numerous amulets, which are highly sought after by his supporters.
Supreme is an American clothing brand known for its skateboarding lifestyle clothing and was founding in New York City in April 1994. The brand enjoys a level of popularity among brandhunting Thais, even though there is no official shop in the country.