Stüssy is surf. Stüssy is street. It's the uniform of New York's hip-hop scene and London's rave culture. For almost 40 years, the pioneering Southern California brand has been defining, and redefining, youth culture in cities form Tijuana to Taiwan.
The brand hit Indonesia in the 90s, riding the wave of the country's shopping mall boom. In 1992, the first Stüssy shop opened in Legian, Bali, and a short time later Jim Fisher, of Stüssy Australia, noticed the brand's popularity when he was on holiday. Fisher told the owner of Hot Tuna, a popular Legian boutique, that the market could probably handle a second Stüssy store, said Thai Little, whose father owned Hot Tuna and the Indonesian Stüssy license.
Thai's dad is already retired, so he wasn't exactly up for an interview. But thankfully his son was down. Long story short, Thai told me that the whole process was, at least in the beginning, pretty simple. The US and Australian offices sent over their designs, which were then produced locally. The screen printing was done on Poppies Lane 1 while bags and hats were made in Bandung, West Java. The rest of it needed to be imported.
The family eventually wound down operations in 2010 amid a change in the market. But now, Stüssy is in the middle of a resurgence as all things late-90s, early-2000s come back around again. Stüssy also touched on some good memories of the brand's early days in Indonesia.
"There was a pair of really baggy red pants that I bought around 1993—the early 90's 'skater' pants you could say," said Claude Hutasoit, a skater and commentator on NET TV. "I must have worn them to skate every day. I totally destroyed them, ripped the back pockets, ripped the lower cuffs, the works."
Claude had never seen Stüssy before then, but something about the brand spoke to him. Maybe it was its association with surf and skate culture. Or maybe it was just that the brand felt more "real," to him.
"In my opinion, Stüssy was 'raw,'" he told me.
Andri Hasibuan, the owner of the local label Paradise Youth Club, told me that Stüssy always felt like it embodied a specific sense of style. "For me, Stüssy is a brand that's already mature," Andri said. "If you ask me if I'd still wear a Stüssy or not—in spite of being so abused lately by Millennials who just found out about the brand, and knowing that they're probably using it to jump on the bandwagon without knowing it's history; I'd still use it."
Andri told me Stüssy is still the benchmark for his own label, in terms of the brand's ability to remain committed to its "idealism, consistency, and the business itself." While other brands eventually become amorphous changelings as they try to keep up with changing trends, Stüssy has remained true to its core identity, he said.
"I'm in it for the history, and Stüssy has always been that way—consistent even today," he said.
Want to learn more? Stop by Bali's Potato Head Beach Club next week for the International Stüssy Tribe Gathering on 28-29 October. The Seminyak beach club has a mini ramp ready and they'll be selling a limited all-natural indigo rayon shirt as a fundraiser for those forced to evacuate from their homes as Mount Agung inches closer to eruption.