Nasty Pig is an apparel brand for men with roots in the kink and leather communities. It was founded in 1994 by Frederick Kearney and David Lauterstein. Nasty Pig is known for “providing edgy clothing for the masculine, sexually self-assured male consumer.” Its slogan is “Fun clothing that gets you laid”.
Kearney and Lauterstein met at $1 Margarita Night at the Break on 8th Avenue in Chelsea, New York. They fell in love and became business partners, creating Nasty Pig together.
Nasty Pig was born on the floor of the original Sound Factory on West 27th Street in New York. Its first product was “re:vision goggles” with refractive lenses, which were sold to club kids out of a knapsack. The profits were used to buy fabric, which then were used to make clothing for friends.
While at GMHC’s Morning Party on Fire Island, a notable fashion industry executive approached the couple to compliment them on their looks, which Kearney had designed. The pair began to make and sell clothes out of their apartment, and eventually moved into a 72 square foot store West 22nd Street. On Halloween 1994, Nasty Pig Incorporated was officially born.
The first store – called “re:vision” after the line of sportswear sold alongside Nasty Pig at the time – opened on December 24, 1994. It had no bathroom, no air conditioning and no counter. It was open three nights a week and Saturdays.
The original line of clothing included vinyl pants, rubber superhero tanks, Nasty Pig tee shirts, and the infamous rubber chaps. It was the first gay culture brand in history. Some remarked the concept was “business suicide.”
New Store and Early Success
As it quickly outgrew its first store, re:vision moved into a larger space in the back of a gift store on 8th Avenue in Chelsea. As the business continued to expand, Nasty Pig outgrew its retail space again and needed to find yet another new location. Lauterstein approached a nearby toy store’s manager to ask if they might possibly be moving soon. As luck had it, they were. A few month’s later Nasty Pig’s retail headquarters “re:vision” opened at 265A West 19th Street.
Having moved retail operation to a larger space, production was transitioned to the back of our store. The gear was made in plain sight in view of the customer.
In 1997, the pair perfected the formula for machine washable Nasty Pig Rubber and turned this material into a full line of innovative fetish gear that fused old school classic archetypes from the art of Tom Of Finland with new school style influences taken from motocross suits and comic book heroes and villains. Looks were starting to be seen at underground leather bars and downtown clubs alike.
Having become the brand of choice for the young new school fetish scene emerging in NYC, Nasty Pig decided to bring our its line to International Mr. Leather in Chicago. A small booth in the vendor mart was rented, and Nasty Pig sold out of all but four pieces of gear. Thierry Mugler – a renowned fashion designed – became a customer. The following year at IML, Nasty Pig rubber playsheets were introduced to a tremendous response.
In 1999 Nasty Pig hired its first full-time employee, and started selling the Nasty Pig brand to its first retail partners, Mr. S Leather in San Francisco and the Leatherman in New York City.
The NP Jean was introduced, the best-selling stretch denim style that is still produced today. Renowned photographer David Morgan shot them for the product launch and in 2011 they were immortalized in the movie “Shame.”
Nasty Pig also became first sportswear company in its industry to sell branded jockstraps, which were introduced at IML.
For the first few years of its graphic tee shirt program, the brand leaned heavily on parody. This was initially successful, however the brand encountered trouble when Absolut Vodka sued over the “Absolute Nasty Pig” shirt. The lawsuit was unsuccessful, however later the Major League Baseball league sued over the “Major League Pig” shirt. The lawsuit was successful.
As the wholesale business grew, the first fulfillment center and warehouse was opened in 2001. By 2002, the IML team became a significant part of the way that the brand is perceived. Knowing it was successful, Nasty Pig added MAL in Washington DC to its tradeshow docket.
Working with a new set of graphic designers – and establishing a strong tradition of impactful graphics – Nasty Pig relaunched its full line of tee shirts and basketball jerseys, cementing Nasty Pig’s presentation as a lifestyle brand.
Seeing that clients are identified much more strongly with the Nasty Pig brand than with re:vision, along with news from the legal team that the brand couldn’t trademark that name, the decision was made to focus energies entirely on Nasty Pig. Henceforth, all gear was produced and distributed under the NP label. In 2003, nastypig.com was launched to sell Nasty Pig online.
As its visual style began to coalesce, Nasty Pig mounted its first full-scale editorial photo shoot, renting a boxing ring at Chelsea Piers and taking a series of pictures of Nasty Pig crewmembers at their pugilistic best.
In 2006, Nasty Pig relaunched its website and started taking pictures of customers in the store on a daily basis, and posted them on the Internet. It was the beginning of a tradition of turning customers into models. The tradition continues today on the brand’s site and social properties.
Shred of Hope
Inspired to respond to the wave of teen suicides and to the ongoing bullying problem, Nasty Pig coordinated a sale of special purple shredder tank tops to benefit the Trevor Project. The shredders were made entirely in-house, and all overhead costs were incurred by the company itself, so that all of the money could be passed on to charity. Ultimately $1200 was raised for the Trevor Project in a fundraiser called “Shred of Hope.” The shirts sold out in less than an hour.
After the success of the first campaign, in 2011 the project was brought back bigger and better, as a fundraising campaign for the Ali Forney Center, the largest shelter and advocacy organization for LGBTQ homeless youth. The campaign raised more than $30,000, 100% of which went directly to AFC programs. Shred of Hope primarily raised funds through an online auction of celebrity-designed one-of-a-kind Nasty Pig Shredders. Participating celebrities include Adam Lambert, Michael Stipe, Dustin Lance Black, Andy Cohen, Alan Cumming, and John Cameron Mitchell.
Broadening Commercial Appeal
Under the guidance of marketing guru Christian Schraga, and in collaboration with LilInternet, Nasty Pig shot its first television commercial, for the Fall 2014 “Fuck Your Idols” collection. The spot aired during American Horror Story in NYC and LA, to widespread acclaim.
In 2014, the holiday commerical “Give/Receive” ran during AdultSwim once and was then pulled off the air due to a complaint. Gawker picked up the story about the blatant censorship and it went global. Lautenstein was interviewed by Huffington Post Live on the issue. Eventually, Time Warner Cable conceded and not only put the spot back on TV, but issued an apology as well.
After Nasty Pig worked quietly with “King Cobra” for weeks, Keegan Allen tweeted a picture of himself and James Franco decked out in Nasty Pig apparel. The press got hold of it and Nasty Pig was name checked on the front page of EOnline.
The very next day, a picture surfaced on Instagram of Madonna wearing a Nasty Pig Harness Bomber.