In this great future, you can't forget your past...

You've heard the story a thousand times by now. In 1980, Shawn Stüssy was a talented surfboard shaper known for the punk rock/new wave-inspired art styles that he'd often put on his boards. To help promote his custom wave rippers, he started making graphic T-shirts emblazoned with his last name, written in a unique hand-lettered style. He spent his summers surfing, while winters were reserved for skiing on Mammoth Mountain.

That's how he met Certified Public Accountant Frank Sinatra Jr. (no, not that Sinatra family). What Sinatra saw in Stüssy wasn't instant dollar signs—it was authenticity, talent, and a truly unique character. Thus began a renegade partnership that would forever influence the way people thought about running a successful brand. After 32 years in the game, Stüssy has outlasted numerous trends while birthing an industry of clothing brands that focus on limited runs, basic wardrobe staples, and the self-aware mirroring of high-fashion labels and pop culture tropes. 

Named by Bobby Hundreds as The Greatest Streetwear Brand of All Time, Stüssy has reached a place where few that would question the brand's continued relevance and staying power. They stand as a perennial outfitter of cool guys in multiple subcultures from skaters to hip-hop, punk, club kids, and beyond. This is the story of the people who built the brand into what it is today—as told by the designers, influencers, and tribe members themselves (with the exception of Shawn Stüssy himself. Despite repeated attempts to contact the co-Founder of Stüssy—who is also the founder of S/Double Studio—he declined to comment for the article, saying that he believes the story can stand on its own. Maybe that's because Stüssy's unique business practices, products, and legacy were not the work of one person alone. With Stüssy being the self-made monster that it is, the story couldn't be told any other way. 

THE PLAYERS

Everyone is listed with his or her relationship to Stüssy first, followed by their current title.

Frank Sinatra Jr. - Co-Founder of Stüssy
James Jebbia - Founder of Union; Founder of Supreme
Paul Mittleman - Stüssy Creative Director (post-Shawn); adidas Creative Director
Eddie Cruz - Manager at Union; Owner of Stüssy Los Angeles Chapter and Founder of Undefeated
Nick Bower - Stüssy Designer
Jules Gayton - Original Stüssy Tribe Member; DJ
Robbie Jeffers - Stüssy Skateboarding Team Manager; Photographer
Keith Hufnagel - Stüssy Skateboarding Team Rider; Founder of HUF
Alex "Baby" Turnbull Original Stüssy Tribe Member; DJ

 

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