In celebration of their 35th anniversary, Stüssy makes its second World Tour stop in partnership with Dover Street Market. Before the special collection of re-imagined archive pieces, Deanna Fanning hand-stitched collaboration and limited-edition...
"To me, Stüssy is a real authentic, an original," Ryan Willms begins. "What Shawn created in the 80s and early 90s was special, and people really connected to the brand in a way that would affect their lives in a positive way, for years to come." 1980 was a good year. Whilst Terry Jones and friends were hand stapling the first photocopied issues of i-D, SoCal-born Shawn Stüssy began to make new wave graphic T-shirts featuring his handwritten logo, intending to promote his services as a surfboard shaper. They might have come from different worlds but their histories are entwined. As i-D placed a lens over London club and street culture, Shawn shared his own kaleidoscope, in which we could all lose ourselves in his world of hip hop, clubbing and unique blend of surf and skate culture with nearly every aspect of life. Over the last 35 years, both i-D, the original style bible, and Stüssy, the original streetwear label, have helped change the fashion landscape, whilst nurturing a legacy that has inspired future generations of talent. At this time of celebration, we have to look back to look forward.
"It's pants and shirts... jackets and hats... there's some corduroys yes, there's leather jackets, many hats," Shawn revealed during a Stüssy segment on the BBC's The Look in the early 90s. It has always meant more that garments though, it's a way of life. American casual became a virtual uniform for the youth of the world. The eclectic style of the Stüssy tribe, with its astute amalgamation of anti-mainstream cultural influences of urban west coast, hip hop, surf, skateboarding and club scenes, seduced a worldwide youth market. "Why tribe? It could've been a posse, it could've been a crew," he adds. "It's definitely a group of people, an international tribe, it's friends in all these cities. It was an earthy tip. It was organic. An odd ball, globe-trotting, like-minded group of DJs, club kids, skaters, and multidisciplinary creatives that has included the likes of Keith Haring, James Jebbia, Hiroshi Fujiwara, James Lebon and Goldie. "Today, Stüssy is in a different place, but it's still very special," Ryan notes. "It's truly unique as a brand, it's affordable and almost anybody can own a piece of it, while at the same time it can be merchandised or worn alongside any high-end fashion brand in the world, and it doesn't feel out of place."
One of Stüssy's greatest legacies is the art of collaboration. While Stüssy's logo is the signature of one man, the communal nature of the International Stüssy Tribe and its ensuing energy have always put collaboration at the heart of this shape-shifting brand and has helped cultivate an ongoing yield of fruitful creative coming togethers with like-minded brands. Dover Street Market is the perfect example.
"For the latest Dover Street Market collaboration, we wanted to to feel like an evolution of the first offering, but also make reference to London," Ryan explains. Time after time, Stüssy have shown that each and every collaboration has to be well articulated, the result has to reach a place in which each individual entity couldn't make it on their own. "By using a houndstooth corduroy, it felt like new take on a classic English fabric, while mixing it with a white nylon, creating a simple contrast that felt fresh. There are a handful of details throughout the pieces that make subtle references to either old Comme des Garcons pieces or archive Stüssy items, trying to find a middle ground between the two, while creating pieces that we want to wear right now." The result is a special collection of pieces for the basement installation, featuring archive references, but reinterpreted in new ways for 2015. DSML will also house eighteen deadstock vintage items for sale, the special London World Tour T-shirt by Mark Lebon and Deanna Fanning's twenty unique hand-stitched T-shirts, that play with the iconic graphics on their World Tour and Basic Logo shirts. Whilst the past is a constant source of inspiration for Stüssy, the energy of the next generation remains at the core of the brand, keeping it fresh and always evolving.
Why DSM? "It is the most exciting retailer in the world," Ryan replies. "The product is exciting, the spaces are special and the mix of brands and their focus on working with new talented people keeps the energy really authentic. It's one of the few places where you can go in, and you might actually find something you didn't know about." They are kindred spirits. "Being that the launch is for London, we wanted to have the local community involved and include a cross section of people that are friends and friends of friends, that had a connection to the brand. We really just wanted to have fun with it and create something with a positive vibe. Basically I wanted people to want to be in the shoot when they saw it, or go shoot something fun with their friends," he adds. I ask Ryan to finishing the sentence, 35 is the new… "beginning," he replies succinctly. "Moving forward I think that the new generation of Tribe members have a really exciting perspective, with a knowledge and respect for the past, but having grown up now in such a different time, for media, publishing, fashion, etc. I think that we have such a great foundation, that the brand is in a great position to really push forward and create an even stronger voice and let people around the world see what Stüssy really is about." So who, what or where is the future of Stüssy? "That's difficult to answer in a simply. It includes everywhere and everyone in a way. It's Tokyo, New York, London, it's an OG Tribe member in his 50s, it's a 19-year old skater in Venice. It's a stylist in New York and a girl DJing in Vancouver. Stüssy is more than clothing, it's a culture and a vibe that means much more than T-shirts." Three and a half decades on and the brand might've come a long way since a beach-side daydream, but Stüssy is still Stüssy.
The Stüssy Dover Street Market installation will launch Friday, October 2nd in London, while Ginza, ITBM and doverstreetmarket.com will stock the capsule collection as well.
Text Steve Salter
Photography James Pearson-Howes
Art Direction Ryan Willms