While I was in the Big Apple during Gay Pride last June, I had the opportunity to speak with CEO David Lauterstein and Creative Director Fred Kearney, the masterminds behind one of the most iconic, as well as extraordinary, street wear brands in the city: Nasty Pig.
They were kind enough to invite me to their studio right there in the middle of the Garment District, to show me what happens behind closed doors. As soon as I walked in, I noticed the energy and sex appeal of the brand – clothes hanging on racks, pictures of half-naked men on the walls, idea boards, and, of course, underwear everywhere.
They have been in the market for more than 17 years, but the story behind their success is not as simple as you might think.
David, who has a major in Creative Writing, grew up in State Island, and graduated from college not knowing what to do. Fred, from New Jersey, never intended to be a designer; he wanted to be a veterinarian. They met, and soon enough became boyfriends. David always knew he wanted to start a company, saying, ” I saw how talented Fred was, and I said, ’Fuck It! Let’s start a company’, and we did. With fifty dollars and no experience, and here we are.”
Not even ten minutes have passed since we started talking and I feel like I already know these guys. There’s something so refreshing about them. I don’t know if it’s the enthusiasm they have when they talk about their brand or if it’s their easy-going, fun personality.
But do not confuse the Nasty Pig brand with Nast Pig the corporation, because these guys take their jobs very seriously.
Jorge: What’s the inspiration behind the logo? How did you guys come up with the idea of “Nasty Pig”?
David: We actually named the company after our dog “Piggy.” But we also took the classic statement that men are pigs, and flipped the meaning. Just because you are sexual, out there playing, doesn’t mean you’re not a nice guy or an authentic person, and that’s the quality that makes a man; all of it. That’s our version of a Nasty Pig.
Jorge: Did you start creating underwear? What was the first piece you designed?
Fred: We started out as a company that wanted to do fun things to wear during the weekend, and evolved into a fetish brand where we did a lot of rubber-coated fabrics.
David: To expand upon that, we started out as a street wear brand, we became known for our fetish stuff, because our clothes always had a fetish edge. Our first pieces were really funky [he reaches behind and shows me this silver, shinny rubber coat]. In 2000 we started doing jockstraps. I’ll put it on the record (he laughs nervously), and someone can challenge me; we were the first ones to make branded jockstraps. In 2006, before the economy took a turn for the worse, we introduced the underwear line. A lot of people think the underwear came first, but they don’t realize we have this very long history.
Jorge: Who do you design for?
David: Our designs are made for gay men, they will always have a gay aesthetic in terms of how it fits, and the energy. And all straight kids that figured it out, c’mon on board.
Jorge: What’s your inspiration?
Fred: I spend a lot of time online, pulling from everywhere: blogs, movies, architecture, colors, looking at what people are wearing. Then I see things that pop up more often, put them in folders, organize them, and try to make sense of them.
David: On top of that, every collection that we do usually has some sort of juxtaposition of different ideas. Fred tends to see things and par up opposites and sees them as the same.
Fred: “Temporary Apocalypse” was our spring after seeing the Maya Ruins. The Apocalypse is the end, but is temporary because there’s a new beginning. (We had our kind of yin and yang moment here.) For the fall we are doing “Technical Insane,” the idea of insanity but it really being a technicality.
Jorge: What’s next for Nasty Pig? Is there something you still want to accomplish?
David: Take over the world, world domination (laughs), front page of the Style Section in the New York Times, again! I don’t know, we are going to move to a bigger store…
Fred: You always want to move along, you’re never really there, and if you get there, you just stop. In the future, we want more creativity, more happy costumers.
Our interview was over, but before I left, they gave me a tour of the studio. Walking around I could see the dedication and hard work these guys put into the brand. They key to their success is the attention to detail of the construction, the sense of making good quality clothing and taking the customers as the most important part of the company.
All of these elements are part of the reasons why other companies are trying to emulate the formula they unknowingly perfected - Nasty Pig is not about who you fuck, it’s about who you are – David says.
If you’re in New York make sure to visit their store, where you’ll get the Nasty Pig treatment. Even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll have a good time. The store is located at 265A West 19th Street, New York City, NY 10011. (212) 691-6067. If you can’t make it to the city shop, online at www.nastypig.com and gear up for the weekend.
Not just a pretty face