Since the brand’s conception in the 80s (or late 70s – there is still some debate), Stüssy has been the leading authority on blending the worlds of skate, surf and street, and producing one of streetwear’s most prolific and well-recognised brands. But aside from their laid back yet well-executed designs, a lot of this is down to their brand identity, and nothing tell’s Stüssy’s story as well as its iconic ads and campaigns.
A clear, streamlined and dynamic visual language was established by Shawn Stüssy from the very beginning – Stüssy was youthful, rebellious and playful – and firmly tapped into the worlds of sport and skate culture. Its early images were permeated with pure authenticity, evidenced by the fact that they kept design and creativity in house: choosing insular creative directors over outsourcing their campaigns to agencies. This allowed them to channel their vision effectively, removing the middleman and subsequent barriers to Shawn’s singular, focused vision for the brand.
Since then, Stüssy has become one of the biggest streetwear brands in the world – in large part thanks to its signature scrawl. First conceptualised as a way for Shawn Stüssy to brand the surfboards he worked on, the scrawl went on to become the brand’s logo – drawing on a graffiti aesthetic that can be seen on the corner of tees, hoodies and caps around the world today. It was a contemporary embellishment to classic, functional items, transforming from the apparel of choice for a close-knit California surf community to worn by everyone, everywhere. We’re taking a look at a few iconic Stüssy pieces if you’re looking for a place to start – but be warned, some are super hard to find.
Almost as iconic as the signature Stüssy scrawl is the brand’s adopted 8-ball motif. Seen on the back of everything from fleeces to jackets, as well as limited homeware items (included a magic 8-ball itself), this is a design code that screams Stüssy without spelling it out. But more on that later.
If you’ve been online in the past few months, chances are you’ve encountered the Stüssy stones tee at some point. Whether it’s artfully layered in a fit check on TikTok (with enough of it showing that you still know what it is) or being posted by someone desperately in search of one for their girl on The Basement, this tee has become one of the most sought after designs from the brand’s archives. Detailing semi-precious and birth stones, its popularity is undoubtedly due to the dizzying rise of wellness, crystals and spirituality amongst Gen Z right now. If you come across one, nab it.
The temperature is dropping, but it’s not all doom and gloom – Stüssy knits are some of their best output. Keeping you cosy and dripped out, their streetwear silhouettes (baggy, dropped shoulders) and distinctive designs have meant they’re some of the most sought after pieces in the Stüssy-verse. This one features the brand’s signature scrawled logo, but others include the previously mentioned 8-ball, or pool balls spelling out the brand name. Take your pick!
On to the bottoms, and Stüssy comes through with its jean offerings. Harking back to the brand’s roots in skate culture, these are typically baggy, low-slung and straight-to-wide legged. The most popular of the jeans? Probably the spellouts, which are hot property on retail sites everywhere. Despite not being in the handwriting aesthetic, this brand spell out on the back isn’t one we’re mad at.
We’ve got to talk about the kicks, too. The Stüssy x Dunk Low Pro SB released in July 2005 as part of Nike SB’s Team Manager series, in which industry team managers were given the opportunity to design their own shoes. Here, the Stüssy cherry dunks were born: inspired by Neapolitan ice cream, complete with a blush pink base, brown leather overlays and cream Swoosh. There’s even a cherry on the tongue (sweet) but their rarity means they’re going for over 3k on some sites (not so sweet).
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