In some ways, having the store has been like Facebook: It's provided a forum to reunite with folks we haven't seen in ages.
That happened Thursday more than a few times. It was one of those rare days of late that I managed to spend at A+R in Venice all day, thanks in large part to a pile of newly arrived products from Denmark, UK and France.
As we were installing the "Woody" bookshelf from Danish maker Hay, gallerist Honor Fraser came in with visiting friend, Rita Konig, an interior designer based in New York, whose blog for T Magazine we follow (though I didn't realize it was her until later). Honor used to house her gallery in a tiny shack just a block up on Abbot Kinney, but has since taken over an amazing space on La Cienega in Culver City. It has since become a jewel in the Arts District there, and consistently showcases some of the best shows.
Hours later, as I locked the front door, I spotted another familiar face, although this blast from the past could be measured in light years. There he was, peering into the window of the gorgeous new Kendall Conrad boutique, in the shop we long occupied until relocating last month to the adjacent space. I walked from his left to his right when it hit me. Instead of blurting out his name, I came out and asked what it was: "Shawn Stussy," he replied.
I announced myself and the reunion got underway.
It's been a dozen years since we last talked: I knew Shawn had left his namesake surf and streetwear biz to raise his family, continue his creative ventures and surf like mad in Hawaii and Montecito, where he now lives. I worked for his sister, designer Holly Sharp, when I was barely out of my teens and in college (it was a crash course in the fashion industry and p.r.), and when we run into one another every other blue moon, I get the update.
Shawn and I met (as he would go on to fill in the young French surfer kid who works with him and accompanied him on this L.A. trip) when he granted an interview for the business section of The Los Angeles Times back in 1992.
It was a first for both of us, sort of: Nearly seven years after he'd screened his first T-shirts and launched what would become a legendary line, Shawn was reluctant to speak to the mainstream press, as most were in the action sports industry during those nascent years; I was 24 and just getting my first chunky assignments for that section. The 2,000-plus feature ran on the front page.
I started the feature with Miles Siggins, at the time 27 and the London distributor for the OC company, and whom I met only a couple months before during my first solo trip to London (no family, and I hadn't even married a Brit yet).
Funnily, we've reconnected here in L.A., where Miles now lives, married with children, and works as one of the key stylists in Hollywood and music.
It's certainly another lifetime now for all of us. I'm a retailer (although, I suppose, I'm still unable to get the ink fully out of my veins!).
And just in the last weeks, Shawn has gone back into fashion by launching a S Double, a capsule collection of men's basics, plus a blog and gallery. it's a clever spin on the name he no longer owns, and lends itself to the insider sensibility of this project.
What you see of S Double online right now shows it's all in the very early stages. The capsule collection will expand for fall, he promised, including the cool striped shirt he was wearing which I was coveting for Andy (and maybe myself). He's aiming to have it all produced in North America going forward, too. After all, he figures, if he can keep an eye on the manufacturing process here, maybe even engage a few old school producers of shoes and shirts, then why not?
From the font he designed to his personal wardrobe, Shawn has always epitomized a cool, globally-informed California style. So I was only too pleased to hear his enthusiasm over my new adventure in design and retail.
Looking forward to see what this new life brings.
Photo Courtesy: S Double
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