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Nike and Stüssy: A Legacy of Creative Community

Nike Stüssy 2020 Spiridon and Kukini 11

The Nike x Stüssy Air Zoom Kukini

For those interested in trivia, Stüssy was the first streetwear brand to collaborate with Nike.

The initial collab, a duo of exclusive Huaraches, released in 2000, and set in motion a two-decade-long relationship. It's a partnership that has ushered in its fair share of pioneering releases (for example, Stüssy was a crucial co-signer of the Nike Dunk) and underground classics (few brands have the chutzpah to champion underground favorites such as the Sky Force). The output has been regular, if not slightly sporadic, and the latest chapter, highlighted by interpretations of the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2 and Nike Air Zoom Kukini, underscores the fluid connection between the brands.

“I think it is absolutely important that these types of relationships exist — ones based in historical, deep, culturally-authentic connections,” says Fraser Cooke, Nike Special Projects Senior Director.

Cooke has watched the relationship blossom over the years, and his long-standing ties to the Stüssy Tribe are indicative of the cross-pollination among music, fashion and skateboarding that catalyzed, and ultimately defined, a truly global view of youth culture. From his home in London, the milieu surrounding Stüssy connected Cooke, and many others like him, to like-minded people from Los Angles, Milan, New York and more.

"There was this transatlantic crew, and Stüssy was a very, very early embodiment of what was happening naturally in this cultural community," Cooke says of Stüssy's core supporters in the 1990s. "Historically it starts with that, this strong family vibe that brought streetwear all over the world. It created a lineage that's also embraced new people coming into the mix."

Subsequently, Stüssy has fostered younger generations with both a respect for the past and fresh ideas. This has kept the relationship with Nike pure. Each new project has followed the ethos and thought process of previous work, and also taken cues from the most contemporary of Stüssy's inner circle. Emphasis on materials is a constant — from well-selected leathers to tough canvases — as is their penchant for playful articulations of the Nike Swoosh.

Thanks to all of this, each distinct project helps to confirm the strength of the Nike and Stüssy connection and form a link from one generation to the next.

"Within this culture, trying to emulate or provide a kind of wardrobe to match a certain mindset is important; Nike and Stüssy continue to make sure that still happens," says Cooke. "One of the good things about Nike and Stüssy is that we're constantly bringing into the fold the new creative community."

The next iteration of Nike and Stüssy’s long-running partnership arrives globally July 30. The coastal California-inspired footwear and apparel collection features the new Nike x Stüssy Air Zoom Kukini and Nike x Stüssy Benassi slides, and Stüssy apparel classics, including a bucket hat, beach pant and beach shorts. An iconic Nike Windrunner jacket rounds out the co-branded, beach-ready line.

"The goal of the collection is to create timeless American sportswear and add to the 20-year legacy of collaboration carried by Nike and Stüssy,” says Fraser Avey, Brand Director at Stüssy. “This is a meshing of worlds and people, a global tribe centered around doing your thing and creative thought."