James Jebbia, the man who, in 1994, founded and to this day runs the SoHo-based company that has been making clothing and skateboards and a lot of other things that the people who love it absolutely have to have, doesn’t think of Supreme the way most people in fashion might—as a brand that started out in a small store on Lafayette Street and has since inched its way to legendary global status. He thinks of Supreme more as a space. When Jebbia was a teenager in Crawley, West Sussex, in the eighties, working at a Duracell factory, listening to T. Rex and Bowie on breaks and spending his spare cash on trips to London to buy clothes, it was always in a certain elusive kind of store—one that became the model for Supreme.

In this great future, you can’t forget your past…

You’ve heard the story a thousand times by now. In 1980, Shawn Stüssy was a talented surfboard shaper known for the punk rock/new wave-inspired art styles that he’d often put on his boards. To help promote his custom wave rippers, he started making graphic T-shirts emblazoned with his last name, written in a unique hand-lettered style. He spent his summers surfing, while winters were reserved for skiing on Mammoth Mountain.

That’s how he met Certified Public Accountant Frank Sinatra Jr. (no, not that Sinatra family). What Sinatra saw in Stüssy wasn’t instant dollar signs—it was authenticity, talent, and a truly unique character. Thus began a renegade partnership that would forever influence the way people thought about running a successful brand. After 32 years in the game, Stüssy has outlasted numerous trends while birthing an industry of clothing brands that focus on limited runs, basic wardrobe staples, and the self-aware mirroring of high-fashion labels and pop culture tropes. 

 

STÜSSY WAS THE FIRST BRAND THAT MADE ME WANT TO WEAR A HAT WITH AN “S” ON IT, AND IT JUST FELT RIGHT. IT WAS LIKE THE CHERRY ON TOP OF YOUR KIT. – EDDIE CRUZ