Iconic streetwear brand, Stüssy was established in 1980 and set the tone for many streetwear brands today. What started out as a small surf shop has now expanded into an empire with over 70 Stussy tribe stores worldwide. The brand has stood the test of time, which is incredibly impressive for a streetwear brand in this day and age and truly reflects the brand’s adaptability as well as the timelessness of their classic designs.
During the early eighties, a young Shawn Stüssy was a talented Surfboard Shaper, mostly know for his new wave/punk rock inspired art-style which were often featured on his boards. To help promote his custom surfboard designs, Stüssy decided to create graphic T-shirts, plastered with his last name written in a unique hand-lettered style. Little did he know, this would be the start of one of the most beloved streetwear brands in history.
During a trade show in 1981, Stüssy was promoting and selling his surfboards from a small stand, until one client noticed his t-shirt. He wanted to know the price, to which Shawn answered they weren’t for sale. Then the guy told him he wanted to buy 24 of them to which Shawn replied, fine that will be 8 bucks a piece then. After that, the t-shirts sold like hot cakes.
"There wasn’t like a price sheet or anything. At the end of the three days, I had sold a thousand; I was like ‘oh fuck, are you kidding me?” - Shawn Stüssy
Stüssy spent most of his Summers surfing and Winter was reserved for ski-trips. During his travels, he met Certified Public Accountant, Frank Sinatra Jr, who would later go on to become one of the co-founders of Stüssy. Sinatra saw something special in Stüssy, namely authenticity, talent, and a truly unique character and thus a partnership was born. Stüssy controlled the creative process and Sinatra oversaw the business end of things. In 1984 Stüssy Inc was born and as difficult it was for Shawn, the surfboard industry was slowly fading and apparel took the center stage.
The brands timing could not have been better. During the mid-eighties, people were getting tired of the over the top flashy looks and were longing for something more casual. Shawn’s approach was to apply a contemporary twist to classic items, creating a style that would stand the test of time. He played it smart by limiting its production below the level of demand, creating an air of exclusivity.
The nineties were huge for Stüssy. They opened their first boutique in the trendy area of SoHo, New York. This was the move that changed them from a small surf company into a big player in the fashion world. From there on, stores started popping up all over the world and today, Stussy has over 70 stores worldwide, as well as being stocked in hundreds of boutiques and online platforms. Still true to their original aesthetic and believes, Stüssy continues to influence the fashion industry and dominate the streetwear scene.