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Every Thursday, we dig up a favorite piece from the archives and bring it back to life. Today, we're highlighting an article about Shawn Stussy and his Stussy brand that appeared in Women's Wear Daily in September 1993. If you haven't read it, consider this a blessing.
Shawn Stussy and his partner Frank Sinatra Jr. (not related to the famous singer), started Stussy in the 1980s. By the '90s the two had made a name for themselves, first by selling surfboards and soon expanding into T-shirts and workwear jackets. Celebrities like Billy Idol, Bruce Weber, De La Soul, and Anjelica Huston frequented Stussy's stores. Even Giorgio Armani and his staff toured Stussy's SoHo boutique back in 1992.
When WWD sat down with Shawn, the conversation focused on the streetwear brand's first attempt at branching out into the women's market with its Stussy Sista Gear line—it would include hats, T-shirts, fitted cotton and Lycra spandex dresses, and more. Shawn also made it clear that he wanted to stay true to his customers, refusing to sell to any major stores. All in all, it's an interesting article, especially considering it was one of the designer's first-ever interviews.
On why he doesn't want to expand the brand just yet:
"Sure, we gross $30 million a year, but we've stayed at that level for the past three years. We are going real slow. We are having fun with this. We're in a few major department stores, but mostly we're in boutiques. As soon as you sell heavily to majors, it's all over. Frank and I want our lives to work with our business, not be driven by it."
On designing surfboards and how those eventually led to clothing:
"I've made surfboards since I was 13. In the late 1979, I scribbled my name on the boards. It was seen as 'new wave,' anarchic. I had the logo screen-printed on T-shirts and sweatshirts, but it had nothing to do with producing clothes. I was trying to promote the boards. A couple of my buddies and I used to go to the Army-Navy surplus stores and buy size 40 khakis and cut them off way up at the knees. Everybody used to say, 'Those are fly!'—so we started making them. My mom made a pattern off of them. We started taking orders, and in 1985 I took on my partner, Frank. The surfboards went by the wayside, and the clothes took over."
Epilogue: According to WWD's Kim-Van Dang, Shawn cancelled a New York business trip to surf. "The waves are too good right now," he told the publicaton. "I'll be surfing tonight, but you can leave a message on my machine if you have any more questions. I always check my machine."
You can read the entire article here, but you'll need access to a New York Public Library card.
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