12 things you didn't know about Stüssy

For decades, Stüssy's handwritten script logo has been shorthand for street-approved cool. But how much do you really know about the scribble that spawned the world's first streetwear brand? We dredged the archives to bring you 12 fascinating facts from Stüssy's storied past, including a bizarre British burial rite, the birth of Supreme, and the identity of a CPA who shares his name with one of the most famous entertainers of all time.

Here are 12 things you didn't know about Stüssy:

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1. It's someone's last name... and you're probably pronouncing it wrong. You may have already known that the brand takes its name from founder Shawn Stüssy. But not everyone does.

2. It started as a one-man surf shop. Stüssy landed his first job shaping surfboards at 15, and started his own company at 24. To promote his services, he wrote his last name on each board with a broad-tipped marker. Eventually, Stüssy started silk-screening his signature on tees.

3. Then, Sinatra got involved. While skiing at Mammoth Mountain, Stüssy met Frank Sinatra, Jr., a CPA who was soon to become his business partner. (In case you're wondering: no relation to Old Blue Eyes.)


4. Missionary zeal sent it global. In 1989, before leaving for a Christian missionary trip, David Dobson reached out to Stüssy for a box of tees that he eventually distributed to children in places like Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Egypt. The photographs of these children rocking Stüssy resulted in a now-famous ad campaign.


5. It was Nike's first official clothing partnership. In 2001 the Stüssy x Nike High Dunk was released. There were 3,000-5,000 pairs made and they were only available for purchase in a Stüssy store. They sold out in two days. 

6. TIME Magazine named it the "tag of the moment" in 1991. At the time, Stüssy's revenues were $17 million. In retrospect, "tag of the decade" really has a better ring to it. So does "a uniform in every high school" which is how BBC's The Look described the clothing movement.

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7. Insiders are "The Tribe" and they get their own jackets. The International Stüssy Tribe Varsity jacket — which is still available in a different form today — was originally created for only the closest members of "the Tribe", which Shawn defined as "a group of people, friends in all these cities, that have a shared lifestyle". These one-of a-kind pieces included personalized embroidery of the staffers' names on the breast pocket.

8. Stüssy doesn't actually run StüssyIn 1996, Shawn resigned as president in order to spend more time with his family in Hawaii, and Sinatra bought out all of his shares. In 2008, Shawn returned to the clothing game with the launch of a new venture, S/Double.

9. Stüssy's signature was so distinctive, it was turned into a font. It's called "FunkyFresh", and it's available on a word-processor near you. 


10. They basically made collaborations a "thing". In 1997, Stüssy partnered with G-Shock to create the DW-6900 — one of the first collab products with the type of co-branding (interlocking S logo when illuminated, “Stüssy G-Shock Limited Edition” engraved on the back, etc.) that would become industry-standard a few years later.


11. Its legends never died, even when they passed away. Graphic artist James Lebon, a fast-living Brit who worked on and popularized the Stüssy name in London, was buried in a cardboard coffin covered in the brand's stickers.


12. The founder of Supreme worked there. James Jebbia honed his crafted as a manager at Stüssy's Soho chapter in 1991 before opening Supreme in 1994.