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.
The brand’s approach of hand-picking only the most fitting photographers, as well as a clear command over their identity, has led to a series of iconic images released under the house – an ethos which has continued to this day. Ingrained in each is the label’s commitment to heritage, authenticity and championing the culture it represents.
Something that features in them all? The iconic Stüssy 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 become one of the biggest streetwear brands in the world.
From sepia toned early images, to working with globally-recognised photographers such as Jurguen Teller, Stüssy ads are both instantly recognisable and playfully nostalgic – bringing bright colours, mind-bending concepts, and its signature care-free aesthetic further into the realm of fashion.
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