CULTED 101: HOW STUSSY (ACCIDENTALLY) TAPPED EVERY SUBCULTURE

CULTED 101: HOW STUSSY (ACCIDENTALLY) TAPPED EVERY SUBCULTURE

by Robyn Pullen
4 min
Stüssy ©

Stüssy is a brand that’s been at the cutting edge of streetwear culture since its conception, churning out more iconic tees and signature sweatshirts than you can probably remember. Which is exactly why a look back at the brand’s trajectory is way overdue. From Stüssy’s humble start on the Cali coast to its collaborations which broke the internet, let’s take a look back at how the brand has shaped streetwear culture, whether through its aesthetic, ambition, or maybe just destiny…

STRAIGHT OUTTA CALI

Born out of California, Stüssy was founded in the 90s by surfer Shawn Stüssy. The brand’s roots in Cali surf culture ended up having a huge influence on its aesthetic, even inspiring the iconic scrawled “Stüssy” logo which Shawn used to sign on his hand-crafted surfboards with a broad-tipped marker. Since the logo’s humble beginnings on the up-side of a surfboard, it’s now one of the most recognizable logos in streetwear, and is an embodiment of the brand’s laidback California vibe.

Stüssy ©

ROLL THE MAGIC 8-BALL

You might not know it but the idea of “destiny” is deeply rooted in Stüssy’s ethos – you’ve probably seen it before embodied in the form of the Stüssy 8-ball, an iconic emblem adopted by the brand. Dubbed “the ball of destiny”, the 8-ball in pool is the last ball the be potted, and thus is a representation of the last man left standing, used to convey the brand and its founder’s determination, luck and resilience. Now an easily recognisable trademark of the brand’s visual identity, Stüssy uses the 8-ball as an image across its apparel to remind us of this.

Stüssy ©

CLAIMED BY SURF & SKATE CULTURE

In an interview with The New York Times in 1992, Shawn Stüssy said, “everybody calls [Stüssy] a surf wear, or urban streetwear, punk, or surf street… I don’t name it, and I don’t name it on purpose.” Despite his best efforts to keep the brand unclaimed by subcultures, it was adopted as part of hip hop, skate, and surfwear trends back in the 90s, which each in turn have fed into the brand’s perception ever since. In fact, the Stüssy we know today pulls on aesthetics from each culture, to create a blend of styles unique to the brand. 

Stüssy ©

A WAVE OF ENDLESS COLLABS

It seems that Stüssy’s had collaborations across almost every subculture worth mentioning. The brand scaled the rap scene for its 35th anniversary the brand hooked up with rap group, A Tribe Called Quest, for a hip hop-inspired drop, and recently found a place in footy through contributing to a kit for Parisian team and giants of the game, Paris Saint-Germain. Between sport and music, it’s Stüssy’s roots in street-style that still reign supreme – literally, in a partnership with Supreme – as seen in the brand’s limitless pairings with BAPE, Nike, New Balance.

@stussyarchive ©

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