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How Stüssy Made (And Broke) The Streetwear Mould

April 2017Words by Mr James Darton

Photograph by Mr Neil Gavin

It feels quite fitting that, if you head to the Wikipedia page for Stüssy looking for the year it was founded, the best that the site’s legion of fact obsessives can come up with is “the early 1980s”. Fitting because the brand, originally founded by Mr Shawn Stussy, has always had that air of the languorous, surf-slacker shoulder shrug to it, even as it transcended its Orange County roots and became perhaps the most recognisable “streetwearbrand in the world. The inverted commas there are necessary, because Mr Stussy himself always struck a somewhat bemused (or possibly weary) tone when it came to classifying his brand. “Everybody calls it surfwear, or urban streetwear, or surf street,” he told The New York Times in 1992. “I don’t name it and I don’t name it on purpose.”

Perhaps it’s that very rejection of prescriptive labelling that has allowed Stüssy to traverse the amorphous world of streetwear so successfully over the past handful of decades. Whether fashioning a global community of likeminded creatives (the Stüssy Tribe) or collaborating with some of the most iconic brands around (more on that later), Stüssy has always managed to stay true to its core. As we celebrate the launch of an exclusive Stüssy x MR PORTER capsule collection, created as part of our Made In California project, we take a look at some key features of the collaboration, and how they fit into the overarching world of the surf-shack that Shawn built.