“Streetwear” can mean almost anything now, and for every low-key, impeccably fitted-out style maverick you see bringing life to a jogging suit like it’s an Italian wool 3-piece, there are two or three visionless, garden variety #fuccboi’s lurking nearby. That said, the same self-perpetuating ubiquity that sends brands down the winding river of oversaturation can also serve as a dynamic virtual platform for upon which integrity may thrive; I liken the sea of genericism to a pulsating mosh pit for the real talents to surf upon.
Enter NYC label Nasty Pig, co-founded nearly two decades ago by partners David Lauterstein and Frederick Kearney. From the initial site tagline, “fun clothing that gets you laid,” it’s immediately clear that there’s a sense of humor behind the (thankfully) more serious design elements, but as I spoke with Lauterstein about the brand’s ethos and F/W collection, “Personal Demon,” it crystallized that, as with most long-standing real New York type shit, there’s considerable depth to speak of.
“We started in 1993 and incorporated in ’94,” says Lauterstein. “I was raised on hip-hop in the ’80s, when hip-hop was about turning shit into gold; I saw what was going on with hip hop in New York, and I was hanging out with a lot of talented people who were starting brands–like Triple Five Soul, GFS, Fuct, Stussy–brands that were taking the energy of street culture and making it fashion. Most people don’t know that Nasty Pig is a hip hop company.” The name Nasty Pig, both tongue-in-cheek and even a bit rude, is also about subverting the expected. “It’s taking attitudes about male identity, but not misogyny– that’s where the name comes from.”
In regards to AW13 specifically, I asked about the meaning of Personal Demon as a theme; Lauterstein explained that he and Kearney (adorably, each other’s first boyfriends and still together roughly 20 years later) had been having a difficult summer, between some personal losses and the asphyxiating fog of darkness in the news. “We came up with the idea of personal demons; things that haunt you,” he explains. “Personal demon is about owning it–you can’t embrace him wholeheartedly and you can’t knock him off your shoulder. It’s about going through a transformation and owning that part of us.”
The campaign video, directed and shot by Lil Internet and produced by Ben Solomon at a palpably serene, off-season Fire Island, was a brilliant way to incorporate this sense of reflection in a space still reverberating with the summer’s wild energy; I asked Lauterstein why he chose Lil Internet to direct, and his answer told us exactly why Nasty Pig is experiencing continued growth after two decades in the transparently cutthroat apparel industry. “I saw [Diplo] Express Yourself; when I saw the video it captured the grit and the dirt and the teeth that are within our brand, but made it beautiful. I hire great artists and let them do their thing. The reason I’m hiring you is that you won’t create anything derivative. In every culture, you have people within it that keep regurgitating it. We’re risk takers; it was the perfect match.”
“We’re going to take this art,” he continues, “and make a living. You might not be able to understand it, but you can’t deny it.”
Watch the nuanced, bittersweet “Personal Demon” campaign video below, with music by other-coolest-person-ever Pictureplane, and go shop the Nasty Pig AW13 collection of tactical pants, masked hoodies, and everything else you need for fall’s chill, via either their online or IRL NYC shops.