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A Collection of Stüssy’s Most Creative Marketing Campaigns

Welcome to the 104th insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode we chart Stussy’s most memorable advertisements, telling the story of those in front, and behind the lens.

Stussy, founded by Shawn Stussy in 1980, has been successful in capturing the youthful spirit for over four decades. Pioneering streetwear as a whole, Stussy curated a tribal, cult-like following in the skate and surf scene, to then ignite an onslaught of expansion into differing niches. Despite their rapid growth and mainstream success, Stussy is unique in its commitment to authenticity, often granting young creatives the limelight when deemed fit.

During the 1980’s, the brand began to spiral through the arteries of street culture and subsequently establish a reputable foundation. However, when it came time to market on a widespread platform, Shawn Stussy opted to hire a photographer named Ron Leighton (1983). After seeing Stussy products in previous shoots, he was approached with creative freedom to direct one of the brand’s first campaigns, subsequently molding Stussy’s visually abstract style.

While much of the brand’s advertising imagery is taken in real time, Shawn Stussy was never opposed to recycling old hip-hop stills either. It was rather common for the artist to mark vintage imagery with his signature font or logo, embracing the heritage that inspired his work. No matter the medium, everything was done in house by friends, acquaintances, or those that happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

Over the years, Stussy would work with industry leaders like Terry Richardson, Robbie Jeffers and Larry Sultan, all of which have become extremities of the label. In the modern age, Stussy continues to spotlight distinctive individuals like Liam McRae and Jim Denevan for the newest collections, now working with larger budgets and even saturation. A lot has changed since 1980, yet Stussy continues to maintain a recognized aspect of legitimacy, despite the founder’s departure in 1999.

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