In the early 1980s, a young artist named Shawn Stussy began making beautifully designed surfboards on which he scrawled his name using a fat black marker.
His brightly colored boards, covered in his aggressive, graphic black lettering, quickly became popular, formalizing the aesthetic of cool, California surf culture. With the success of the boards, Stussy went on to design clothes featuring that same signature, which he sold first from the trunk of his car in Laguna Beach, and later at trade shows.
Before long, it seemed like everyone was wearing his caps, t-shirts, and shorts—and the craze was only just beginning.
His company expanded to Europe, and then to New York, where he opened a boutique in SoHo. By the mid-1990’s, the company was racking up $20 million annually from its cult following of loyal young fans who shared in Stussy’s love for art, hip-hop, and big-city life. One of those fans was Kim Jones, now the creative director of Dior Men.
At a building owned by Don and Mera Rubell in Miami yesterday, Jones presented his pre-Fall 2020 collection, which featured a collaboration with none other than Stussy, Jones’s childhood hero, whose work he had been collecting since he was 14 years old.
“I don’t choose people just because they’re famous,” Jones told Vogue after his Miami show. “When something becomes as iconic as [Stussy’s work], it’s in the culture and the culture is what I’m interested in.”
Jones has invested much of his energy into steering the Parisian heritage house in a new direction. For every new collection he has designed, he has tapped a new artist, and in 2019 alone, he has collaborated with KAWS, Raymond Pettibon, and Japanese sculptor Hajime Sorayama to create buzzworthy collections that inject Dior’s menswear line with an unexpected, design-forward energy.
In the process, he has also illuminated his marketing prowess and genuine love for art.
The new collection features Stüssy’s signature lettering, with wavy prints of palm trees, local Miami flora, and washes of neon color. Stussy also reimagined the brand’s logo as a sort of ode to his retro, California-cool beginnings.
For those familiar with Dior, which has historically snubbed trend-driven fashion, including streetwear, this comes as a surprising move—and an indicator that Jones is unafraid to push the envelope and do things differently than his predecessors, while still tapping into tradition. (Christian Dior himself began his career as an art dealer before venturing into fashion design.)
“The house has always cultivated a passionate relationship with art, and this fascination is at the heart of Dior’s inventiveness now more than ever,” the brand said in a statement.
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