This piece appears as part of “Not In Paris,” an online exhibition hosted and curated by Highsnobiety. Head here to see the full series.
Kim Jones remembers buying one of Shawn Stüssy’s T-shirts as a 14-year-old. It featured a photo of a steel-and-concrete T-rex alongside Stüssy’s recognizable graffiti handstyle. That dinosaur still stands today in Cabazon, California, and Shawn Stüssy’s impact on the world of youthful style codes has similarly stood the test of time.
His eponymous label started as an ode to California culture and the myriad of musical styles and subcultures that inspired him. It turned into a global tribe of like-minded people who found a uniform for a new generation — one that appreciated the fashion world but had a unique way of seeing it.
Meanwhile in London, Kim Jones started working for Michael Kopelman, the man behind Gimme Five, an early distributor of brands like Stüssy and Supreme and co-owner of Hit-and-Run (later, The Hideout), a seminal boutique that mixed rare Japanese brands with other in-the-know labels.
It was here that Jones got properly inducted into the world of streetwear, and linked up with Fraser Cooke, a barber-turned-buyer for The Hideout, and currently Nike’s go-to whisperer for its coolest collaborators (including of course, Jones himself). Cooke was the one who brought Kim Jones and Shawn Stüssy together.
While the two ran in similar social circles, they’d never properly met until before this partnership came together. After taking an early retirement in the mid-’90s to return to his first love of surfboard shaping, Shawn Stüssy has picked up his felt-tip marker again and has given Dior’s logo a psychedelic reinterpretation, showing that the venerable artist truly hasn’t lost his touch.
It’s just another way that Kim Jones helped close the gap between Stüssy’s original aspirations and the elevated platform it belongs on. In addition to an exclusive look at some of Shawn Stüssy’s early drafts for the Dior collection, we had the chance to catch up with Jones as the product hits stores globally to discuss why he wanted to work with Shawn Stüssy, the lasting influence of ’90s subculture, and their shared collector mindset.
When did you first meet Shawn?
We have been in a similar social circle for years, but never met. The key introduction was made by Fraser Cooke. Then, we met in Paris a few months before the Miami show, we just had a brief conversation and off he went! Shawn is a true artist. I admire that it’s been 40 years since he founded his brand — and he has influenced every generation since.
You and Shawn are both “product guys” through-and-through, with a sincere appreciation forr craftsmanship and design. Does that aficionado lens factor into your rapport?
I like to be a collector. I have different collections: clothes, art, rare vinyl, books, everything related to the Bloomsbury group. I have periods… I collect everything that sparks my interest. Shawn and I are both sharing the same passion of art and fashion iconic archives.
What made him the ideal partner for this season?
The reason I thought about Shawn is because I didn’t want to work with a “formal” artist, I wanted to work with an artist that I respect and love. I think that what Shawn does has got that confidence of all the other artists we’d worked with at Dior, and I thought: “Well, let’s work with Shawn” because he’s not been doing his clothing since 1997, but he puts a pen on paper and creates amazing stuff, and that is art to me.
Speaking of the ’90s, what was it like to be a part of that pivotal mid-’90s subculture and shopping scene in London?
That was a great period! London has always had the very particular energy of a megacity in terms of fashion — we were, and we are in the middle of multitude of influences, at a frenetic pace.
It is still a fabulous place to look at fashion and to be inspired. I love watching how boys appropriate their fathers’ formal attire; a costumed dinner jacket worn over a simple T-shirt instantly becomes very cool.
In some ways, it’s like Shawn’s work is finally getting the platform it deserves through Dior’s atelier. His art’s always had this high-end sensibility.
For the Dior Fall ’20 men’s Collection, he reinvented the Dior logo in a graffiti style and created new prints, such as the “psychedelic surf motif” that was also featured on the show space in Miami.
As I said before, Shawn Stüssy has influenced generations of people ever since he used his artist’s hand to create his namesake brand with an incredible creativity and unique savoir-faire.
Are you also “Not In Paris?” Not to worry, you too can join in on the non-gathering with our exclusive set of merch. Shop the collection here.