‘Stussy S’ or ‘Cool S’ as it is also known consists of 14- line segments, forming a pointed, stylized S. Pointy ‘S’ have been around for quite some time. We’ve all seen it doodled across children books but how did everyone start drawing the S thing and more importantly, what does it mean and where did it originate from  [1]?

Julian Morgan, an online director at Vice decided to explore its origins and here’s what he found  [2].

First stop, Reddit
After searching the internet, he found that the pointy S symbol had been discussed in forums such as Reddit, however, there was no clear answer regarding its origins.

“It seems The S has appeared throughout all of North America, South America, Europe, Russia, Asia, and Australia. Some people think it’s a 90s thing, others report seeing it as early as the 1960s. There were theories that it was the symbol of some 80s hair metal band. Other people thought it was the original emblem for the clothing brand Stussy. Others thought it was an incarnation of the Superman logo. No one was sure,”  he says.

Superman S?
More confused, he decided to ask the in-house graphics guy at Vice, who thought it was the Superman S. But when asked if it actually meant it was from Superman, he said it wasn’t.

“No, I think it’s just what kids think when they’re drawing it. They really just draw it because it’s cool.”

In order to get more insight, he called DC Comics to see if they knew anything, but Benjamin LeClear who manages the DC comics library in Burbank, California, quickly ruled out that the S had its origins with Superman  [3].

“It doesn’t look like any of the emblems from the old Superman Shield logos. His ‘S’ has a lot of open space and almost never connects to itself,” Benjamin said.

Stussy S
Since most forums mentioned Stussy – the Californian street/ surf company as the possible origin of the S, Morgan called Stussy as well.

“No, this is not an original Stussy Logo,” stated Emmy Coates, who has worked alongside Shawn Stussy since 1985. “I personally get asked this a lot, but people have been drawing this S long before Stussy was established. People have just assumed it was Stussy and it’s sort of spread from there. It’s actually quite amusing.”

Möbius strip
Exhausting all other options, Morgan called Paul Cobley – a Professor in Language and Media at Middlesex University in London. Cobley debunked the hair metal symbol and offered the most likely explanation. That is, it is fun to draw.

“The reason kids go through this is probably that it’s a Mobius strip. It can’t be drawn continuously, but it does have a perpetual flow.” Colbey explains.

While we still don’t know the origins of the S, we now know for sure that it is neither a Stussy logo nor a Superman logo.

References:

  1. Super S Stussy“, Know Your Meme.
  2. That ‘S’ Thing Everyone Drew in School, WHAT IS IT?“, Vice. July, 2016.
  3. Breaking News: Kids Are Still Doing “The S Thing” In 2017 And People Are Freaking Out“, Buzz Feed News. March, 2017.
  4. The Mathematical Madness of Möbius Strips and Other One-Sided Objects“, Smithsonianmag. September 2018.
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