How Stussy Became a $50 Million USD Streetwear Brand Without Selling Out

To anyone connected with the world of streetwear, Stussy is one of the first names to pop into

Fashion
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To anyone connected with the world of streetwear, Stussy is one of the first names to pop into one’s mind when asked about the subculture’s most prominent brands. The annual sales figures also back up the brand’s stellar reputation — last year alone, Stussy did over $50 million USD in worldwide sales, making it one of the biggest years ever for the brand. What is remarkable, however, is that Stussy has managed such a phenomenal feat without selling out, unlike brands such as A Bathing Ape and Volcom. What is even more remarkable is that Stussy has done so without the man behind the name, Shawn Stussy, who left the company he founded in 1996, citing personal reasons. Business of Fashion has taken an in-depth look at how the team behind the brand, including the likes of Frank Sinatra Jr. and Luca Benini, have kept the integrity of the brand intact in the eyes of the expansive Stussy International Tribe, by hiring a mix of the right people and pursuing a “brand first, revenue second” business approach. Read an excerpt below and find the full article online here.

In Europe, Luca Benini helped boost Stüssy’s retail presence through his distribution company, Slam Jam. To this day, Stüssy does more business globally than it does in the US and David Sinatra estimates the split is about “60-40,” with Japan remaining its largest customer base. Stüssy’s international tribe has swelled into a worldwide movement. “Even though they don’t have the original designer, their most iconic signature would be the font — his handwriting, which they were able to retain,” says Gibbs.

Stüssy also traded in the currency of the logo flip — the reinterpretation of famous trademarks and images with a knowing nod, channelling the attitude of placing graffiti or a sticker over a subway ad. In addition to Stüssy’s Chanel homages, the younger Sinatra remembers one particular Stüssy pattern modelled after Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed print: “I know Shawn did it, it was probably in the late ‘80s, we called it ’Stu-ey Vuitton,’ and we got sued for it, actually.”

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