Stüssy has to be the #1 fan theory on the origin of the S. And rightly so. What Shawn Stüssy created wasn't just a streetwear brand but a movement.
It all started in the late 80's when Shawn Stüssy, an avid surfer, used to shape his own boards for friends and locals in Laguna Beach, California. Stüssy began screening t-shirts and shorts to sell along with the surfboards to help promote his brand. Using a graffiti-influenced hand style, an emerging style at the time, Stüssy created the brands logo by signing his surname. And thus the Stüssy logo was born.
Over the next few decades, the Stüssy logo would be transformed into countless different styles depending on the garment, event, season or just the vibe. We saw variations of not only the written logo but also variations of just the S, S with a crown and Shawn's personal affiliation to S/DOUBLE (A new brand he almost launched in 2020).
But there is one question on the mind of millions of people - Did Shawn Stüssy invent the S or use it with the Stüssy brand?
The short answer is no.
When Julian Morgans, from VICE, wrote the article 'What the Hell Was That 'S' Thing Everyone Drew in School?' in 2016, he interviewed Emmy Coats, a lady who had worked alongside Shawn since 1985. Julian found the answers we were looking for:
"No, this is not an original Stüssy Logo. I personally get asked this a lot, but people have been drawing this 'S' long before Stüssy was established." Replied Coates.
She even quipped "It looks like the Suzuki logo".
Even today, as reported on the 'Cool S' wikipedia page - Shawn was not the originator of the S. It may not be specifically from the horses mouth but The S Thing is working on that one.
What is super important to note, is that Shawns influence on multiple cultures is profound. As written on the About Us of the Stüssy website:
'Stüssy was a label that grew organically from youth movements and inadvertently revolutionized the clothing business...The brand grew during a time when epochal shifts that now frame contemporary popular culture were taking place. In the music scene the late ’70s gave us punk, while the early ’80s brought us a new DIY type of music called rap. Punk broke creative and aesthetic barriers and taught us that anyone could have a band. Rap pushed social boundaries and explored the ideas of remixing and sampling. These new ideas and territories created a new modern platform for fashion and cultural expression. The designs and overall aesthetic touched on references from a range of underground subcultures that resonated with Stüssy. This approach appealed to a worldwide network of creative youth who shared a common interest in surf-culture, skating and music. Limited distribution fuelled the desire internationally, and those who wanted the gear found it and felt a part of something bigger in the process.'
We are highly influenced by Shawn and what he created at Stüssy and hope to one day emulate just a fraction of his success, touching on all the subcultures where The S likes to hang about, from graffiti to tattooing, design, fashion and art.
Shawn Stüssy may not be the originator of the S but he is certainly top of the list of people that pushed it into the 21st century and beyond.
FUN FACT: Stüssy has used the S thing just a handful of time in their collection history. Matt Williams, Creative Director of 1017 ALYX 9SM, in 2019 launched a capsule with the brand that included boots and an orange tee where we saw a clear S logo used on the back with the famous Stüssy crown. In more recent years, we have also seen some knitted wear using the S. Despite countless Redditors and online S fans claiming wearing Stüssy tees in the 80s and 90s with the S thing - there is not a single shred of evidence to prove it.
At the time of writing, we can only dream of the day we too may collaborate with Stüssy and bring many childhood dreams to life.