4/20/12 – Stussy Tokyo is opening up a new store in Daida City (DC) and we’ve been given the opportunity to collaborate on a tee, cap, and deck capsule for the grand opening this month. The concept we presented for the store was based on “Kilroy was here“, which is an American expression that we’ve flipped into “DC Chapter is here!”, which is fitting in regards to the grand opening of the DC Chapter plaza, our brand personality, and the Dragon (2012 year of the Dragon).
There are many different debates in how “Kilroy was here” originated. The most popular legend of “Kilroy was here” starts with James J. Kilroy, a shipyard inspector during WWII. He chalked the words on bulkheads to show that he had been there and inspected the riveting in the newly constructed ship. To the troops in those ships, however, it was a complete mystery — all they knew for sure was that he had “been there first.” As a joke, they began placing the graffiti wherever they (US forces) landed or went, claiming it was already there when they arrived. Kilroy became the US super-GI who always got there first — wherever GI’s went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places.
Despite its origin, “Kilroy was here” is an American popular cultural expression, often seen in graffiti, with the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle— a bald-headed man (possibly with a few hairs) with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall. Author Charles Panati says that in the US “the phrase became a national joke… The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up.”
Many United States servicemen, particularly during WWII, who would draw the doodle and the text “Kilroy was here” on the walls and other places they were stationed, encamped, or visited. The Kilroy graffiti fad ended in the 1950s, but today people all over the world still scribble the character and “Kilroy was here” in schools, trains, and other similar public areas.