Unpacking Stüssy’s petrol-powered campaigns

Unpacking Stüssy’s petrol-powered campaigns

by Ollie Cox
2 min

Ever wondered why the Stüssy Insta is filled with cars? From its pre-digital ads featuring vehicles on remote winding roads to its recent lookbook shots, cars have become a cornerstone of Stüssy’s storytelling. If you’re scratching your head thinking the Laguna Beach brand was founded amongst Southern California’s surf, skate and graffiti subcultures, you’re not wrong. But as well as being home to some of the world’s best surfers and skaters, California boasts a booming car scene. 

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Given the size of The Golden State, cars have become embedded into Cali life, being both an expression of cool and commuting convenience. However, they also possess a subcultural appeal, similar to the graffiti, surf, and skate scenes integral to the brand. Lowriding, a car subculture stemming from southern California, involves modifying cars to be lower to the ground and is still thriving today. The community is founded on people’s pride in their cars, and the aesthetic properties of their modified motors.

Stüssy extended the car love across the pond in its 2023 collaboration with Martine Rose, which featured driving gloves, steering wheel covers, and floor mats, speaking to the UKs modded car scene in shots of  Mark 1 VW Golf, Toyota AE86 Corolla Levin Coupe, and a Nissan R35 GTR.

In recent campaigns, vintage G-Wagons have appeared alongside Mercedes Benz 500 E models, with the former loved by Stüssy photographer Liam Macrae. A quick scroll through his instagram reveals a love of all things petrol-powered, from polished Mercs in Malibu to mud-soaked motocross flicks. For its Spring 2023 campaign, Macrae shot cow print vests, cargos, and shirting in front of a nondescript parking garage. Throughout varying shots, a boxy boy racer Renault 5, motocross bikes, and jet skis all nodded to previous petrol-powered campaigns, inviting us into its automotive visual identity. 

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By incorporating cars into its output, Stüssy’s subcultural footing is showcased beyond its clothing and accessories, extending into the backdrop of its campaigns. 

Cover Image: Stüssy ©

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