HYPEBEAST Magazine: Shawn Stussy Interview
There’s more to it than just the name on the front of your T-shirt or hat. It goes much deeper than merely a successful street brand. Before Stussy was a household term, the only “International Tribe” member was Shawn Stussy himself – the man from which the now iconic brand received its name. In the 1980s when Shawn began his namesake surfboard business and scribbled his surname into a makeshift logo, little did he know that the side project of designing logo-driven T-shirts to accompany the boards would go on to develop into a global phenomenon, virtually defining the landscape of “streetwear” as we know it today. Read on to find an excerpt from our interview with the legend, while picking up a copy of our inaugural issue grants you the feature in its entirety.
How old were you when you picked up your first surfboard?
I’m sure I most likely first picked up on a surfboard when I was very young, but I actually picked one up to use at the age of thirteen.
The Stussy brand developed rapidly, and yet you have expressed that it was originally a side note to your surfboard trade at the time. Do you ever feel as if the clothing brand got in the way of your first love?
I might not agree with your thought that the Stussy brand developed rapidly, I feel that it was just the opposite. I had many years of making surfboards while working on my clothing on the side. The surfboards put food on the table while I used my extra time to build clothes. As the clothing started to get traction, the boards then took a backseat as I could see more potential, business wise, with the clothing part of my mix. As far as the clothing getting in the way, not really. My energy just shifted to the clothing part as I have always made boards through all the different eras of my journey.
Does S/DOUBLE then represent a return for you to what first got your started on this whole adventure?
Yes it does. I am starting a new adventure with the same spirit inside the same guy as always. Prior to the launch of the Tokyo shop, you mentioned on your blog that all of the boards at the opening were made by hand in your Santa Barbara studio.
Where do you find inspiration for the surfboards you create?
Many years of knowing and learning the finite criteria that presents itself in the design of the surfboards hull. Like boat or airplane designs, many factors arise in the area of board design.
Do you remember the first time you ever scribbled the now iconic “STUSSY” phrase on a board?
Yes, February of 1980 to be exact. I left the board outfit that I had worked at through the 70’s and scribbled my last name in a very punk attitude and charged. I’ve never looked back.