It’s hard to overstate Stüssy’s impact on streetwear—or even fashion in general; at thirty-seven years old, the company has demonstrated the staying power of ten average streetwear brands combined and is even the elder to some highly successful luxury fashion houses. But, where high-end brands like Chanel or Dior have traditionally targeted customers by highlighting their heritage, Stüssy consistently connects to youth culture without making it feel forced. The brand reportedly counted $50 million in revenue in 2015 and collaborates year after year with some of the most relevant brands on the market, from Nike to Hypnotize Hearts, and everywhere in-between. These are miraculous accomplishments for any company, but especially one started by a Southern California surfer who hasn’t been at the helm of his namesake project in over twenty years. Yet, Stüssy’s greatest accomplishment may be the way the brand has effortlessly sampled subcultures—in particular, Punk and hip-hop—over its nearly four decades of existence, thereby infusing its clothing with a feeling of authenticity that few peers can claim.

Born in 1954, Shawn Stüssy grew up immersed in California surf culture and began designing and shaping his own surfboards at thirteen years old. He was so talented that a surfboard manufacturer hired him just two years later while he was still in high school. After graduating, Stüssy split his time between Eastern California and Newport Beach, working winters as a ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain and shaping boards for Russell Surfboards during the summers.