Stussy is a streetwear brand that's recognized all over the world. But here in Toronto, the store is easy to miss unless you know what you're looking for.
I, of course, did not, so I walked right past the entrance on my first attempt to check out the shop. Occupying a second-floor space off of Richmond near Spadina, Stussy has little in the way of traditional street-level signage. I did notice a big sign that read, "Piss Off!" however, but simply shrugged it off as a comment of sorts on contemporary City Hall politics.
Piss Off! is actually a slug from Stussy Canada's "Deadboy Clubhouse" exhibition, created in collaboration with Vancouver designer Raif Adelberg.
When I finally discover Stussy's front entrance and make my way up the stairs, I meet the store manager who tells me collaboration is a big aspect of local Stussy brand development. "Stussy is a global brand," Matt says. "But we also have our own Canadian line."
Stussy got its launch in California back in 1980. The concept started with surfboards and skatewear, later evolving to adopt a more urban vibe as it touched down in more and more U.S. cities. Now Stussy has more than 15 stores across Asia, North America, and Europe with two shops in Canada — this one that opened in 2008, and another out in Vancouver.
"It's mostly contemporary men's streetwear," Matt says, adding that women's Stussy styles are slowly gaining traction. "But that's not all it is — we have cashmere sweaters along with our t-shirts."
But cashmere sweaters and the like usually crop up as limited editions, created in partnership with other lines and labels such as Ransom (by Adidas), Undefeated, and Herschel. And while you can buy plenty of Stussy merchandise online, Stussy Canada items are available strictly in store.
Matt points out a few choice Stussy Canada designs, including a beaver head skull tee ($35) and a "From The North With Love" sweatshirt ($60). Of the limited editions, he shows off a Deadwood Clubhouse hand knit vest that's been affixed with vintage Levi's sleeves ($500). "We only made eight of these," he says. A Canadian uniform, if I've ever seen one.
Stussy also stocks streetwear accessories including sunglasses, watches, and snapbacks ($35), alongside a small selection of women's clothing. Matt adds that they often host in-store events (previously featuring Big Sean and Bun B), which, naturally, are only for those who can find the front door.
Photos by Morris Lum