A New Campaign Celebrates A Revolutionary Brand’s 30-Year Anniversary

by The Daily Front Row

For thirty years, Nasty Pig has been fusing high fashion and streetwear . The menswear line was among the first to pull inspiration from the art of Tom of Finland and classic gay adult magazines, as well as the coded signals and counterculture silhouettes associated with the queer community. For their summer XXX campaign, celebrating the house’s thirty-year anniversary, fashion photographer Sam Waxman set out to create visuals that paid homage to NYC’s queer culture from the 90’s to the present.   “This shoot is inspired by the need to stay loud and bold in our queerness,” Waxman asserts. “Every model in the campaign is fun, sexy, a little weird, and fiercely individualistic, which embodies so much of the ethos of Nasty Pig from 1994 to present.” Models include Emolsa Haasacha, Eugenio Fernandez, and Tony Voong, along with professional dancers Diego Mugler and Jeffrey Koch and martial arts practitioner David Alcocer.

“The models understood the assignment so clearly,” Waxman continues. “There is beautiful attitude and movement in every corner of these frames.” Getting the perfect shots was a collaborative effort, he acknowledges. Airik Prince styled the shoot. Production/lighting support is by Austin Ruffer, and movement direction is by Maxfield Haines. Also on hand at the shoot was  CEO David Lauterstein whose lightning bolt of energy made him an excellent hype-man on set.

 Lauterstein fills us in on the new campaign and its first three decades.

Congratulations on thirty years of Nasty Pig. Can you take us back to NYC in the nineties?
David Lauterstein: When we (Frederick Kearney) founded the brand in 1994, NYC was wonderfully sketchy, energetically creative, and incredibly inspiring. You didn’t need tons of money to live here so it allowed for a thriving arts and underground club scene. Sound Factory, the afterhours club on West 27th Street, was the center of the world where ballroom girls, designers, hookers, and celebrities danced together from 4am to 2pm the next day. Things were harder to find because we didn’t have the internet. But once you found them, they were accessible to everyone because the scene was so much smaller and welcoming. New York City is still popping. If you truly understand this place, you know she is constantly eating herself alive and regurgitating herself in new ways in new neighborhoods. I absolutely love New York.

What comes to mind when you reflect on the three decades that have passed?
DL: It’s been the ride of a lifetime! I started this business with my first boyfriend who took my virginity. We were still in the throes of the AIDS epidemic in 1994. Frederick and I felt there was a need for a queer brand that spoke to our community in a visual and cultural style that made queer people feel more than understood: empowered. We wanted to reclaim our sexuality and our identity from the stigmas that were unfairly placed upon us. Frederick Kearney is an incredible designer and constructionist, the purest of artists. He is the Creative Director of our company and now my husband. So, when I reflect on the past thirty years of Nasty Pig, I see it as a love story: my love for Frederick, our
shared love of fashion, and the love we have for our community.

With Frederick as the creative, were you more the business side of the company?
DL: I graduated college with a degree in poetry so I had no idea what building a brand meant! The only thing I fully understood was that making a product wasn’t enough; I had to build a world. When we opened the doors of our 68-square-foot store on West 22nd Street, I used every interaction I had with customers to make them feel something. I told stories. I entertained them. But most of all, when they left our store with something new from our brand, I wanted to make sure they felt transformed.

Did the NYC fashion industry open its arms to you?
DL: We were blessed to count Manfred Thierry Mugler as one of our earliest customers. I cannot begin to describe how it felt to have our idol walk into our store to shop our racks. He took us under his wing and downloaded so much wisdom to our
young ears, including his feeling that the fashion “industry” was an obstacle to true happiness and real success. He instructed me to retain the connection I had with my customers at all costs. I didn’t understand his advice at the time but that didn’t stop me from unquestioningly heeding it. When Mr. Mugler spoke, you just bowed down and listened. Of course, he was right. The connection between our brand and our customer base is at the heart of our success. It remains incredibly strong, and we never stop pouring our hearts into what we do.

How has the fashion industry changed in this time and what impact has the change had on the brand?
DL: The biggest change the industry has gone through is the full-throated adoption of the internet and social media as the primary means of communication of your brand and your product to the world. We were very early adopters of both, launching our first ecommerce site in 2006, our Facebook page in 2007 and our first influencer program, called the Nasty Pig House of Representatives, in 2010. The fact that we were ahead of the times meant we were well positioned once these ideas became standard practice. We didn’t need to manufacture our personality for the world to consume digitally. We’ve been authentic since day one.

Diversity and inclusion are key words in fashion today. How has Nasty Pig incorporated the initiatives into its brand?
DL: Kevin Aviance, a bald genderfluid man of color, modeled for us in our very first photoshoot back in 1995 wearing a hot pink dress my husband made for him by hand. We are featuring him again as part of our campaign for our SS24 collection. It’s always been important to us to choose models and influencers who represent the diversity of our community and reflect back the diversity of our customer base. Inclusion has never been an initiative of ours. It’s just who we are.

Who is your target audience today?
DL: Our target audience is anyone who is embracing their queerness and sexuality. We make menswear, so our audience skews towards a customer base that wears those silhouettes, but anyone who wants to sport a look from Nasty Pig and feels hot doing so – bring them on!

Photos: Sam Waxman


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