With Kim Jones tapping Stüssy – its founder Shawn Stussy in particular – for Dior’s Pre- Fall 2020 Menswear collection, it decidedly indicates the continuance of streetwear’s infiltration of fashion.
Here, Stussy opens up about what made him come out of retirement to collaborate with Jones:
How did you meet Kim Jones?
Kim reached out to me through a very old mutual friend, Fraser Cooke. Fraser had worked with Michael Kopelman, who was my guy in London for many years. He inquired if he could give a buddy my number. When I asked who, he replied Kim Jones… I knew the name as we both come from the same circle of buddies, but from different eras.
I was, of course, familiar with the Louis Vuitton collaboration he had done with my friend James Jebbia from Supreme. Kim called, and six months later we’re a few days away from a runway show in Miami. The world works in strange ways, as I have always believed.
So, you met through your circle of friends?
Yes, that’s correct. When I walked away from this game 20 years ago, Kim was just coming up. I left my company to raise my boys and moved to Hawaii and more or less disappeared from the bright lights of this world.
People know the name Stussy, but not so much about me or my trajectory actually, which is just fine with me. Maybe a little mystery developed as I was out of touch with the world I had left.
Why did you say yes to Kim and Dior?
For quite a few years I’ve been in contact with various companies to talk about project possibilities, and it just never felt right to me. But when Kim reached out, I felt the stars might have just lined up. To me, Dior holds a very rare and unique place in the world.
The absolute top of the pyramid of our game, I feel, and at this stage of my life, if I am going to get back on the field I want to play with the best. It felt so natural and simple in my talks with Kim that I said to myself “Why not? Cool, this is happening at this level of play, go for it man”.
How would you describe the spirit of this collaboration?
This project has been a true collaboration with Kim and his team. I created black-and-white inkwork and submitted it; they in turn coloured it and teamed it with certain fabrics and couture techniques that are amazing.
“To me, Dior holds a very rare and unique place in the world. The absolute top of the pyramid of our game, I feel…”
The House of Dior is renowned for its tailoring savoir-faire, which Kim Jones celebrates and reinvents with every show. Does Dior’s excellence in tailoring resonate with you?
Absolutely! I have worn suits for 30 years; I have a massive love of the classic men’s tailoring. I think I adopted suits with sneakers back then to stand out from my crowd, to mess with the status quo.
You have a lot of things in common with Kim: a passion for tailoring, a love of Japan…
Kim and I have many things in common. He travels in a familiar crowd from my past life. He is a student of culture, not a culture vulture, which is very important to me. We both have a huge love of the Japanese scene, design, art and lots of other things.
He seems to me to be doing it for the right reasons, he does not need to be all up in it for his own ego, no need to be the star of the show – I like that vibe a lot!
How exactly did you work with Kim and his team?
We worked from a distance, as I did all my design work at my home in Hawaii. For me, fashion design is really problem solving, just like an architect has many things to consider when starting his concept for a project.
The building site sits like this, the sun comes up here and sets there, the prevailing winds come from this direction, there are many things to consider. A fashion company also has its own set of things to deal with that need to be considered carefully, I feel. Rarely is it a blank canvas that you can go nuts on, you need to consider where you’re coming from, in my opinion.
You are an architect and a sculptor. The shape of the surfboard was really important to you, the work of the hand. Is that right?
Yes, working with my hands has always been my thing. Since age 15 I’ve made surfboards, they’ve been the one constant in my life. In 1980 I started my mark when I went out on my own to build boards, the clothing part slowly followed in the mid-’80s.
I always saw myself as an artist before a clothing guy, so when Kim reached out to me to help out as a contributing artist for this collection, I was into it. This is not an ordinary collaboration between two companies, it is a collaboration with me, personally, as an artist contributing to a bigger project with a very cool company in my eyes.
It is about Dior to me; I am simply the guest at a nice dinner who brought along the side dish!
What does Dior mean to you?
Dior exists in a very rarefied air to me. The very top of the luxury pyramid, the undisputed king of the game. The opportunity to work and hang out with this crew is a great little exclamation point to put on my journey, you feel me?
Can you tell us about your drawings for this collaboration?
A man and a felt pen, that’s about as simple as it gets. They requested a logo or two, a new bee design, and work on a repeating pattern if it feels right. Natural and stress-free is a good explanation, I guess.
This story first appeared in the June/July 2020 issue of Men’s Folio Malaysia.