When we got a first look at Justin O’Shea’s new label SSS World Corp in June at Paris Fashion Week, there was a lot to like: tiger stripe velvet coats. Oversized SSS-branded belt buckles. Hard-as-nails peak lapel suits. Printed Hawaiian shirts that ate an entire trend for lunch. And even before the day-long guerilla show commenced at Place Vendôme, O’Shea told GQ Style that the line would be sold at accessible prices, an intriguing proposition for a name-brand designer. Now that the first SSS World Corp collection is hitting stores, it’s clear just how savvy a decision that was. O’Shea is known as a tailoring guy—it’s what he became street style famous for wearing, and what Brioni hired him in early 2016 to make. As anyone who has done some serious suit-shopping knows, it’s hard enough to find a good suit for under $1,000, and nearly impossible to find a fashion brand that does directional tailoring at an entry-level price. But SSS World Corp’s first drop includes one of the best tailoring releases of the season: those badass peak lapel suits, which all clock in at under a grand.
O’Shea is not the kind of designer who hands out epigraph-filled show notes that break down his inspiration. His references are pulled straight from his life, his personal style, and the things he thinks are awesome. SSS World Corp’s debut collection, officially called “Aloha from Hell,” was inspired by everything from surfers and pimps to The Strokes and Archer. So naturally, the suiting is designed with the same hypermasculine silhouette O’Shea likes to wear: sharp peak lapels, strong shoulders, a single button, and no vent. He introduced a similar aesthetic during his brief rock ’n’ roll reign at Brioni, where it (and his Metallica campaign) provoked exasperation among traditionalists.
But now O’Shea is working with 032c and designing for his kind of dude. At Brioni O’Shea’s suit was called the “Continental;” now it’s called the “Rampage Suit.” You’ll see why in the brand’s first video, debuted exclusively below. Directed by Benny Robinson, it tracks SSS World Corp’s day-of-mayhem debut in Paris, which started at Place Vendôme and turned into a classic O’Shea tour of Paris, with drinks at the Ritz and dinner at Caviar Kaspia. (And includes a cameo from our very own Will Welch.) We also called O’Shea up to talk about what he learned at Brioni, masculinity in men’s fashion, and who he’d like to see rocking SSS on the red carpet.
GQ Style: How did you develop the fit of the Rampage Suit? It’s a continuation of what you did at Brioni, right?
Justin O’Shea: Totally. When I went into Brioni I brought in a new suit shape, which was what I think is the perfect suit for a man—very strong, very masculine. Ultimately it’s very classic, and goes against the trends because it’s a bit more ’70s. And a more established and luxurious suit looks better on a younger, cooler guy. I find it’s a little too obvious to be young and cool and trendy wearing a young and cool suit. And so the Rampage Suit is basically the Brioni 2.0.
And it’s accessible to the young guy, it’s not Brioni expensive. How’d you get it to an essentially J. Crew price point?
The principle behind it was this idea that luxury is attached to a price tag, and I don’t think the world works like that anymore, I don’t think that’s what the modern consumer finds important. It’s just like, is this cool or is this not cool? That dictates if it’s luxurious, it’s not at all what the price is. So I wanted to produce something that was accessible to everyone so that people could make the choice if they would buy into it or not. And at the same time people that have money, if they want to buy it they’re choosing it because they like it, and it’s not just like, oh it’s expensive so I feel like it’s right.
And also it’s impossible to make a cheap, great suit. It just does not exist. If you’re like, I want to get a suit that looks like Tom Ford for under $1,000, where do you go? There is nowhere. And so I considered that a challenge. It’s the most fun thing I’ve ever done—to make the most awesome thing and to bring it to a price that’s never been done. And then it was just a matter of honing in on the details of what visually makes a suit look expensive, and finding fabrics that give it a look and feel of something far more luxurious. I skipped the steps that no one gives a shit about. Ultimately seeing how it’s done in its most expensive way was the best training to make the most affordable suit.
What are the SSS World Corp rules for wearing a suit? What kind of shirt do you need, what’s the tie situation?
It’s funny ’cause for the Brioni show I did the styling myself, it had to be very clean and perfect. With SSS I told [stylist] Marc [Goehring] that I wanted a dirty ’70s businessman in Connecticut that’s going around selling vacuums. He’s had a tough day, he doesn’t really give a shit about his appearance, he just kind of has to wear a suit because of a formality, he’s probably just really dying to get to a bar at 2:00 p.m. to knock back a few beers before getting back on the road. It’s the disheveled version of what a Wall St. guy would be. I like the idea of this guy taking the tie off and having the wide open shirt, but the suit is impeccable, and his feeling is very I don’t give a fuck. You’ve got a big collar, you’ve got a silk shirt, but it’s not preppy, it’s not tight, it’s not for someone that’s sitting there caring about what their hair is like. And whether it’s trainers or cowboy boots or stuff like that, you don’t need to wear a certain shoe, you don’t need to follow the sartorial rules.
The “Rampage Suit” seems like a pretty good suit to party in.
Exactly, it’s like your party’s at night and then you go to work the next day and you’ll be totally fine. And then you probably go back to the bar. Actually this season all the names were from Archer. So basically when Archer goes on a rampage he goes: “Rampaaaaage!” I thought Archer was a great character because he is the most awesome dude, he totally kicks ass, he drinks all day, slays the chicks, is a bit idiotic, he loves cars and guns and all that stuff, but he’s a good guy. And he kind of just does his own thing. So I thought Archer was very much the vibe of the first collection.
SSS World Corp presents a vision of masculinity that the fashion world has shied away from. It’s pretty brash and unapologetic. Why do you think the trend has moved away from that?
Funnily enough, womenswear is outspoken. It’s all about being a feminist, which is great. Womenswear in the last 5-6 years—basically since Phoebe [Philo] went to Céline—has been all about getting the power back, being proud, being strong, wearing sneakers not heels, wearing baggy pants not tight skirts. And that is pretty inspiring. Coming from being a [Mytheresa] womenswear buyer for so long I’ve been watching this trend unfold and it’s like, wow, that’s awesome, I’d love to be a chick. But in menswear it’s almost, like, tamed. And it has kind of made the men want to be feminists. And that’s obviously great, but at the same time nobody’s going, do you know what, I love being a dude. It’s awesome. Because being a guy is great. You’re allowed to say that’s great. That doesn’t mean you’re not a feminist, it just means you like being a man. And I think obviously menswear is sometimes quite feminine anyway. And ultimately we’re totally in tune with our feminine side. We don’t have Red Wing shoes and denim jackets and checked shirts. It’s silk print shirts with hula girls on them, and a lot of florals. That’s the best part.
The Academy Awards are coming up. Who would you most like to dress in SSS World Corp for the red carpet?
I would really like to dress Deadpool. I would actually like Deadpool to wear SSS on the red carpet. Not that I don’t think that Ryan Reynolds isn’t totally awesome, but if he turned up in the Deadpool costume wearing SSS I think that would be pretty cool. Also Darth Vader would be awesome. I love that new helmet. Kylo Ren in a tiger stripe velvet jacket would be pretty gnarly.