Shawn Stussy (born 1954) was a Californian manufacturer of surfboards. The logo defining the brand started in the early 1980s, when he scrawled his surname on handcrafted boards with a simple broad-tipped marker. He then used the logo on T-shirts, shorts and caps that he sold out of his car around Laguna Beach, California. The signature was derived from that of his uncle, Jan Stussy. A stylized “S” popular in the 1990s, called the “Cool S”, is often mistakenly attributed to the brand.
In 1984, Stussy and his friend, Frank Sinatra Jr. (no relation to the singer), partnered to sell the apparel. The company expanded into Europe by 1988, opened a boutique in SoHo, New York, and unveiled multiple other locations throughout the 1990s. Revenues reached $17 million in 1991, and $20 million in 1992. Stüssy was sold throughout the United States at both specialty and department stores alongside other high-priced “California lifestyle” clothing during this era. Outside of the US, the brand was available in specialty shops alongside high-end international design clothing.
In 1996, Stussy resigned as president and Sinatra bought his share of the company holdings, with the Sinatra family still owning the brand in 2017. According to the company’s website, the apparel is available in branded stores and other retailers in Europe, Asia, the United States, Canada, and Australia.