Among the fray of successful streetwear brands, Stüssy may be the one that flies under the radar the most. The California brand has grown from a simple skate and surf clothing company into a $50 million behemoth and The Business of Fashion, with our own carpetbagging Jian DeLeon in tow, took a look at the brand's immense growth since its inception back in 1984.
With the Chanel parody interlocking S's and "No. 4" branding, the brand started bringing in $17 million within six years of its founding. Along with future Supreme founder James Jebbia, Stüssy opened up a flagship store in New York's SoHo in 1991, long before it became totally commercialized. The story of how the brand came up makes you really long to be around in the pre-Internet days. Stüssy and Jebbia were kicking it with the likes of Hiroshi Fujiwara, their DJ friends and others, traveling around the world and essentially being the OG lifestyle crew you think you're following on Instagram today, but most assuredly aren't.
While the brand grew and grew, the late '90s saw Stüssy falter as competition started sprouting up. While brands like Mossimo or Volcom started to eat into their market share and eventually get bought up by bigger companies in the process, Stüssy remained independent and looked outside the U.S. to Japan and Europe. Today, international sales encompass roughly 60% of the brand's business.
Now, the brand makes its meat in both cool guy shops like Trés Bien and Dover Street Market (a collaboration is on deck) and big wholesale accounts like Urban Outfitters. Even those UO deals still feel "right" according to the brand's spokespeople and aren't pursued because they're an obvious cash out. With the brand's longevity, the appeal is both there for the old-timers looking to stick with a brand they know and a younger crowd that gravitates to Stüssy's signature graphic designs. Talk about going the distance.