How staying true made Stussy one of the biggest streetwear brands in history


When speaking on streetwear, there are a select few fashion labels that qualify as staple, legendary brands. If you were to list these brands on paper, the list wouldn't even be close to complete without one worldwide iconic label, Stussy. Founded by Shawn Stussy in 1980, the brand has emerged to be one of the top popular fashion brands worldwide and has solidified its spot in the streetwear/urbanwear industry. Reading about the history of Stussy, it may seem like success came quickly for Shawn, but it wasn't as easy as it seems. 

Before Stussy became one of the biggest fashion labels of street culture on a global scale, Shawn was just an everyday surfer that wanted to make custom surfboards.  After high school, he needed a job so he began his surfboard company in the 1980s in Laguna Beach, CA with one store and his original, broad-tipped marker signature logo of his last name. During this time period, if you haven't figured by now, there was no internet, no cellphones, no social media. The most advanced piece of technology in this era would've most likely been the IBM Computer, and they weren't even a household item. So how did Shawn advertise his business? Simple, he set a goal for himself and stayed true.

I didn’t go to school for marketing, merchandising, or production. We kind of, are just learning about it as we go along.
— Shawn Stussy

Shawn didn't start his company because he saw an opportunity to get rich, he started Stussy because he enjoyed surfing and making surfboards. First, it was surfboards bearing his signature. But once he put this same signature on apparel, his business began to grow. His focus was not on revenue, name, status, none of that. His only goal was to make a dope, inspiring products, from surfboards to apparel, that made his consumer feel empowered and unique to own and/or wear a Stussy piece, knowing that only a select few people will have it. Branding his company as "The Stussy Tribe", he developed a niche cult following of people from all walks of life. Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, cool kids from the older generation, and even those of the newer generation at one point or another wear or have worn Stussy. Utilizing one design, his clothing resonated with styles all over the world. 

I want to be exclusive and I do not care about huge sales.
— Shawn Stussy

Fast forward to current times, Stussy is a household name. Most streetwear fashion retailers with consumers aged 18-24 usually don't set up shop without a Stussy account. Mention the word Stussy to almost anyone with a love for cool, hip fashion, and they will automatically identify with the company. Even though Shawn resigned as Stussy's president in 1996, his design and legacy still lives on.


Stay True