Catching On Fast : Stussy and Mossimo Start Up New Lines to Spread Their Success


While hip-hop and grunge fashion ideas have slowly captivated America’s youth, Irvine-based designers Shawn Stussy and Mossimo Giannulli have remained true to their clean and classic sportswear roots. The formula has worked--to the tune of $25 million in sales this year for Stussy and $23 million for Mossimo.

Now, each is parlaying his popularity into several new business arenas, from sunglasses to shoes.

Mossimo recently introduced an eyewear collection known as Optics, a shoe label he calls Sole and a junior swimwear line. He has signed licensing agreements in Europe, Canada, Australia and Chile. In August, he opened his first in-store shop at Bullock’s South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.


Stussy has opened another Stussy Union retail store on La Brea Boulevard in Los Angeles. (Other shops can be found in New York, Tokyo and Laguna Beach.) His new sunglasses collection is called Stussy Eyegear.

The differences between the two designers--high-profile Mossimo versus low-key Stussy--are played out in their stores.

“We’re using a lot of twisted wrought-iron tables and draped walls in our store displays,” says Giannulli of his Bullock’s shop concept, which looks like a page from his favorite Italian design magazine, Abitare.

Over at Stussy Union, handcrafted light-wood cabinets, arched shelves and sleek metal clothing racks collide to create a hip yet sophisticated environment. “I wanted the store to feel like a big walk-in closet,” Stussy says.

As their separate empires grow, so do their fashion offerings. Once limited to T-shirts and a popular nylon volley short with a giant M on the rear, the Mossimo line now includes jeans, leather jackets, embroidered sweat shirts and classic baseball caps.

“It’s contemporary but not extreme,” Giannulli says of his look for the ‘90s. “More streamlined, without being too basic.”

Stussy has added brushed cotton shop coats, hooded leather jackets, canvas blousons and fleece sweat shirts to his collection. The designer calls them “utilitarian, service clothes. They’re just things I--and I suppose every teen-age kid--want to wear.”


Although based in the same city, the two designers have never met and don’t communicate. But they share a similar uncomplicated theory about design.

“It’s not cutting edge. It’s not revolutionary. They’re just basic young men’s clothes,” says Stussy, whose designs are inspired by migrant farm workers. “I’m not putting a label on something and calling it designer. They’re just droopy khaki jeans, big Pendleton-like winter shirts and webbed belts.”

Giannulli says, “I try to give kids the palette. But I want them to create their own paintings. I want them to be able to take any piece from my collection and put their own stamp on it.”

And they do. Justin Hurley, a 14-year-old student at Anaheim High School, yearns for a Stussy “8-ball” shirt and Mossimo’s blue-and-black-flannel shorts. “Everyone at my school who’s cool wears them.”