LONDON, United Kingdom — For its latest collaboration, Stüssy — the American streetwear label founded by Shawn Stüssy in 1980 — has partnered with Dover Street Market in London on a t-shirt retrospective.
From August 25, Dover Street Market will exhibit eight t-shirts featuring graphics from the Stüssy archive, with the aim of exploring the garment’s role as a powerful means of communication. A limited-edition collection of tees printed with the graphics will also go on sale at DSM stores internationally.
“The t-shirt is such an important past of Stüssy’s past and present and it felt like a nice time to dig into the archives and bring back some of the brand’s well-known and lesser-seen graphics,” says creative director Ryan Willms, who works with Stüssy on a range of special projects, including the DSM partnership. “Stüssy’s brand is heavily built on visuals… We really wanted to highlight the medium of the t-shirt, how inclusive it can be and how it transcends decades, continents and subcultures.”
Stüssy has also partnered with IDEA to launch a limited-edition 240-page book, with never-before-seen archive imagery that will be displayed alongside the collection at DSM.
That the brand has such a rich archive to draw upon signifies Stüssy’s status as a power player in the streetwear scene: its strong visual identity and brand shows how relevant it has remained for over three decades — in 2015, annual revenues were in the region of $50 million. Stüssy was also the first brand to “start building this international ‘tribe’ through the use of its logo on t-shirts and hats,” says Willms. Says Dickon Bowden, vice president of Dover Street Market: "Stüssy is the true originator of the surf and skate movement."
It inspired legions of brands including Off-White, Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy — but Stüssy has its own cultural heritage to draw upon for such projects. “The energy and excitement of what Gosha and Demna are doing is undeniable,” says Willms. “But for Stüssy, we’ve been focusing on looking inwards more so than outwards. We’re looking to develop our own vision of what contemporary Californian sportswear can be.”
He continues. “I’m not sure there are many brands with as much of a range of iconic graphics and logos as Stüssy. The book is the perfect medium to showcase this as we’re able to dig through archive editorial images, pairing them alongside newer designs and photographs by Tyrone Lebon, while allowing some of the most iconic modern fashion photographers to interpret the brand through their perspective.”