It has been 25 years since David Lauterstein and his partner Frederick Kearney first founded Nasty Pig in response to the gay stigma that spurred from the AIDS epidemic. The brand has come a long way, growing from a $50 investment to a global name in apparel — one that has had its own indelible role in influencing the worlds of kink, fetish, queer, and even high fashion.
In celebration of a quarter-century, take a look back at a visual history of Nasty Pig, as recounted by Lauterstein, the company's CEO.
“We started Nasty Pig because we wanted to create a culture brand that would allow queer people to express their queer identity. In the early nineties so much of our community was defined by the AIDS crisis in one way or another. We wanted to offer something that celebrated our uniqueness as a people.”
Pictured: Owners Frederick Kearney and David Lauterstein wearing some of the very first Nasty Pig styles, all of which were sewn by Kearney out of their apartment on West 23rd Street.
“Our designs were inspired by and intended for New York City’s vibrant underground bar and club scene. Back then that meant everyone from Thierry Mugler to the House of Aviance. Rather than sanitize our brand image to engage the 'fashion industry,' we did whatever we could to bring Nasty Pig right to the people, including doing street fairs and attending direct to customer fetish conventions like IML and MAL.”
Pictured: Kevin Aviance, of the House of Aviance, and Paul Z, bartender from the Lure, the legendary meatpacking district leather bar, perform at the inaugural Folsom Fair East. Both wear Nasty Pig.
“We expected to have a big moment when we showed up at IML with Nasty Pig branded jockstraps. That being said, we had no idea that they would sell out in two days. We returned home and immediately began working on a full line of branded underwear. To this day, our jocks remain our customers’ favorite way to identify their NP lifestyle.”
Pictured: Chris wears Nasty Pig's Core Jock. Image by Frederick Kearney.
“As our brand grew, our customers became friends, and our friends became part of our chosen family, an artist collective of queer people we call the Nasty Pig Crew. We all joined forces to push our vision forward and create product and imagery that stood apart from the sterilized and desexualized version of LGBTQ people that was expected of us at the time. We would travel the country together to share our energy with our customers.”
Pictured: Richie, ConJobFrankie, Vizz, and Pisher at an impromptu photoshoot at our design studios on West 35th Street.
“After 10 years of creating imagery when and where we could, we wanted to up our game as we celebrated our 10-year anniversary. Thanks to a dear friend in the community we were able to do an after hours take over of Chelsea Piers, the 28 acre sports complex on the Hudson River, and shoot our version of an editorial campaign.”
Pictured: ConJobFrankie, Xavier, Dieter and Mikie from Nasty Pig's “Heavyweight Champion” series. Image credit: Raymond Dragon for Nasty Pig.
“Our direct connection to our customers and their stories was always at the heart of our company, and we put them front and center when we launched our Facebook page in 2006. Officially hiring them to model for us was a natural extension for our brand. When the now out of print iconic gay zine HX reached out to us to do a story on our novel marketing idea, we delivered before and after shots for the piece called 'Swan to Swine.'”
Pictured: After shots of Mark and Steve butching it up in a shed on the roof of our flagship store on West 19th Street. Photo by Joe Oppedisano for Nasty Pig.
“Our brand becomes synonymous with the queer lifestyle we have represented for 15 years and our customers pay us the ultimate homage by inking our logo onto their bodies. To this day that act inspires us to stay true to the values of our brand because we don’t want to let them down.”
Pictured: Gregg Poole with his Nasty Pig ink. So humbling. Image credit: Gregg Poole.
“House music has been at the heart of our brand since day one. A year after we opened shop we put up a 'DJ Wanted' sign in our store to find someone to create Nasty Pig mix tapes. Fresh off the plane from Detroit, in walked Chad Jack with a demo that blew our minds. We became sonic collaborators, and our CEO David Lauterstein began releasing original tracks produced by Chad under the Nasty Pig name. To this day we go out dancing and we watch all these guys wearing our gear and dancing to our beats and they don’t even know it.”
Pictured: Cover art for “GagOnIt” photo by Frederick Kearney.
“Our Creative Director Frederick Kearney’s first love has always been photography, and as our staff grew he was able to focus more of his creative energy to our imagery. We released Technically Insane, our first editorial lookbook produced and shot entirely by him, pushing our visuals into a more conceptual place that truly reflected back his vision for the collection.”
Pictured: Matthew and Gary in “The Black Rubber Room” set design and photo by Frederick Kearney.
“We have always felt a responsibility to give back to our community, and in 2013 we partnered with the Ali Forney Center, an incredible organization that supports homeless LGBTQ youth, and created Shred Of Hope — a fundraiser where public figures and artists created one of a kind shirts that were auctioned off to our fans. We raised over thirty thousand dollars for the most at risk members of the queer community."
Pictured: Bilal, Carl Siciliano, and Keith Boykin
“In a groundbreaking moment for the brand as well as for the visibility of queer owned businesses and queer people in advertising, we put out two commercials during FX’s hit series American Horror Story. When Time Warner Cable refused to run one of the spots and additionally refused to tell us why they were called out by Gawker, a moment of viral protest occurred over the double standard to which we were being held. We got an apology from TWC and our spot successfully ran, much to the joy of our fans."
“Our sales explode with our 'Exposed' collection, inspired by all things vintage porn. We take our advertising to digital and our 'Test Shoot 3: Robert and Joey' spot becomes one of our most liked and responded to campaigns. We air the same spot nationally on RuPauls Drag Race and it creates quite a stir, pushing Nasty Pig to start being considered a 'gay household name.'”
“We are celebrating our 25th anniversary. After years of looking to certain archetypes for design inspiration, we put out a collection that pays homage to our customers and named the collection itself 'Archetype' as we look to them as our ultimate muses. We are so grateful to our Nasty Pigs that have inspired us and are truly the reason for our success. When no one believed in us they did. They still do and ultimately that’s all that really matters.”