Stüssy Women’sgot its start in 1995, and much like other streetwear and action sports brands, the line was created as an afterthought, as Stüssy looked for a way to meet the demand of its female fan base in its early Laguna Beach days. The collection, which started off as a shrunken version of the men’s apparel, quickly graduated to higher end product, as Stüssy’s women’s team, headed up by Designer Pauline Takahashi Saunders, pioneered the introduction of fashion pieces and cut-and-sew styles that took inspiration from the runways and mixed it with West Coast street style.
Coats, who has had the privilege of overseeing and guiding the collection over the years, has seen the industry evolve, and says perhaps the biggest change she’s seen is a more responsive women’s market, especially when it comes to trends: “It all moves so much faster now with the web and literally being able to see fashion trends emerge from runway to street in a matter of months,” says Coats. “One of the biggest recent advancements that we all know is crucial these days is the use of social media to grow a brand and deliver the message.”
Among one of the most successful vehicles online for Stüssy women’s has been Instagram, a channel that has seen the most interaction and growth, says Coats. The brand will also be leveraging a new platform at Agenda Long Beach this year, with the addition of the Women’s division of the show.
Stüssy Women’s Spring 2013
We were lucky enough to borrow some of Coats time to catch up on the evolution of the brand, the decision to partner with Agenda Women’s for its debut at the upcoming Long Beach show, and her take on the women’s market and how Stüssy Women’s fits in the mix.
Why did you decide to highlight Stüssy women’s at Agenda LB this time around?
The timing was just right. We were feeling some momentum towards Stüssy womens and we were beginning to establish some really good relationships with some important retailers. This market got hit pretty hard in the last few years with the fast fashion overload and we wanted to take this opportunity to show how important brands with heritage and authenticity can be a valuable component to this market.
Stüssy Women’s Timeline
What are your thoughts about the new women’s division of the Agenda show and why do you see this type of platform as necessary within the action sports/streetwear world?
We are very excited and feel it can only benefit the womens brands showing there. Instead of womens brands thought of as an afterthought in the street world, it will showcase and serve as a launch pad, opening eyes to the opportunities in our market.
We actually took a step back and looked at the collection and the brand holistically. We thought to ourselves, if a female customer was coming into a Stüssy store and we had limited amount of rack space, what are the important stories to tell based off of the successes of our past.
What was the driving force behind the theme or focus for this collection?
The new season has some late ’80s and early ’90s influences. Some black and white themes along with some Stüssy heritage graphic plays. There is a bit of reggae influence that will indeed carry through to our creative direction for the seasonal lookbook.
Collaborations continue to be important for us as well, as it gives us an opportunity to join forces and explore new categories and directions we wouldn't normally do on our own. For Spring '14, we are excited to be working with Jules Kim of Bejules Jewelry.
What’s happening on the business side, as far as price-points, margins, etc.?
The competition for price is still very much there. But as we have always done, we try to offer originality and authenticity in our brand that can't be duplicated or offered elsewhere.
Is the women’s collection growing in general? Do you hope to increase the number of SKUs in the collection?
It's actually tightening up. As mentioned above, we wanted to fine-tune it with fewer SKUs and a more focused message.
What retail doors are you in with Stussy Women’s and do you plan on increasing or decreasing that distribution? International vs. domestic?
Our larger retailers include Urban Outfitters, Zumiez, Top Shop, and Asos. We are looking to expand only as it makes sense for the business side and our brand image. As Stussy has always done, it has to be organic growth with retailers who understand and appreciate our disciplined distribution model.
From a International stand point, Stüssy Japan is making a big push for Stüssy womens and have opened up Stüssy Womens stand alone retails stores.
What are your goals for the women’s collection moving into 2014?
Our goals are to maintain the discipline we have always had while growing the brand organically; Building relationships with retailers who respect our brand for our distribution and style discipline and who appreciate our 30+ year history and the authentic story that we tell.