[Images: Nasty Pig; Jeff Eason Selects]
In 1994, Creative Director Frederick Kearney and CEO David Lauterstein founded Nasty Pig. Initially built around the concept of fetish sportswear—think sexy jockstraps and skintight denim—Nasty Pig now offers a full line of upmarket urban clothing (even neckties!) that appeals to both gay and straight guys, and a growing number of lesbians, too.
"The Nasty Pig and 'NP' logos that we developed are ways that people can call to each other," Lauterstein says. "But we will never not be us. I've had two decades of people telling me to change. I'm not going to start now."
The Nasty Pig aesthetic—a refined combo of punk attitude, street graffiti, and high-tech materials— is a clear descendent of Vivienne Westwood's SEX store, which was celebrated at the Met's recent Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibit for paving the way for such outré tastes in the marketplace. The fact that such ideas have become more mainstream helps, but the popularity of the brand is due to NP’s core appeal to “self-confident” customers, according to Lauterstein. "We cater to gay guys who like to work out and be stylish," he explained. "They tend to be people who appreciate what we do for the quality and the design and who like identifying with a brand they can’t get everywhere else." (See: Celebrities Who Have Collaborated With Nasty Pig on T-Shirt Designs for Charity.)
This month, Nasty Pig expanded by opening its new flagship store West 19th Street in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood. Located near its previous location, the new space includes more floorspace to display clothing, as well as an outdoor patio that will surely be used for summer gatherings. "Chelsea is our home. It’s part of our identity. No matter where you open a store, you have to give people a reason to come," Lauterstein said. "Neighborhoods are becoming less and less important to different retail businesses because people are moving all the time. Neighborhoods come and go, but we stayed in Chelsea because it seemed like it had the biggest future for retail. And our customers certainly seemed to have no problems coming to see us there."
More important to the brand's continued success may be the fact that, as it evolves, so has society, allowing it to push fetishwear aesthetic out of the dark corners of leather bars and onto fashion runways and mainstream magazine fashion editorials. In fact, last year the brand was named to the INC 5000, a competitive list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Even after 20 years, however, Lauterstein insists the brand is still (and will always be) about getting costumers laid.
We caught up with Lauterstein—while he was still covered in construction dust a few days before the flagship's opening—and he shared with Out his brand's vision. Plus: Check out photos of the new store (located at 259 W. 19th Street in New York City).
On the type of guy who Nasty Pig appeals to:
"No brand includes all types. We are for a specific guy with a specific attitude. Having body hair or a beard has nothing to do with that, but it has to do with a sense of wearing who you are on your sleeve. And that crosses a lot of different types of people, but our customers definitely somebody who wants t represent themselves in that way. We have everyone from the butchest bear to some of the more gorgeous queens in the city show our stuff."
How other brands have taken notice of Nasty Pig’s success:
On becoming a mainstay of the New York City community:
How the new store will create a better experience for the customer:
"It’s a bigger and better version of what we already do. We are giving our customers more room and a back deck to hang out on the weekends... I want to use that store for a lot of different thing. It’s a very versatile space, and it’s fantastic that we got the variance to build the back deck. In New York, if you want to be outside, you can go to a park or you have to sit in the two rows of a cafe or a restaurant. This is something kind of unique in the back, and we are really excited to see how it goes."
"We definitely have no desire to change our name. The worst thing in the word we could do is to make Macy’s happy. What kind of business strategy is that? Abbreviating or using initials is something every company does. We make garments that don't say “Nasty Pig” at all. That just reflect the position of the designers."
On what’s next for the brand:
"There are lots of products that we are working on: sneakers, sunglasses. When Fred [Kearney] and I design stuff, it can’t ever look like we slapped our name on someone else's product, everything must be created.
"I would love to know what a Nasty Pig three-piece suit would look like. We’ve done very successfully silk woven ties. Our customer lives his life openly and wants well-made stuff. There are so many thing we want to try and [my partner and designer] Frederick is ceaselessly creative, he gets bored really easily. We know who our customers are and we know what they want but I think a Nasty Pig suit would be pretty freaking amazing. Perfectly tailored perfectly gorgeous, and no zipper in the bitt. Just a gorgeous suit."
"There's a pair of sweatpants that we did two years ago but they were a little ahead of their time. But everyone on our staff still covets them. If we talk about favorite in terms of what I wear the most, it would be those sweats. In terms of what I abuse the most, it’s our rubber sheets. Those I put through the wringer the most."
Nasty Pig's new flagship store is now open at 259 W. 19th Street, New York, NY.