Lo­cals on hot list NSF

Los Angeles Times - - IMAGE - BY ADAM TSCHORN

Two Los An­ge­les brands, NSF and Stampd, were among those named to GQ mag­a­zine’s 2015 Best New Menswear De­sign­ers in Amer­ica list ear­lier this year (along with New York City’s David Hart and the Hill-Side). It’s an honor that brings with it a col­lab­o­ra­tive fall 2015 col­lec­tion with the Gap and a fea­ture in the Oc­to­ber is­sue of the men’s style glossy. While the two la­bels have some sim­i­lar­i­ties — they’re both named af­ter their thir­tysome­thing founders, for ex­am­ple, and both have re­booted parts of their busi­nesses — they em­body two de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent takes on Left Coast cul­ture.

Founder: Nick Fried­berg, 39, runs the show; cre­ative di­rec­tor Jamie Haller joined the la­bel in early 2011.

Nam­ing the brand: “My mid­dle name is Sam,” says Fried­berg, “I showed my list of names to my un­cle and he said, ‘These are ter­ri­ble, just use your ini­tials, they’re rad.’”

Head­quar­tered: Fash­ion Dis­trict Begin­nings: NSF launched as a mens wear-only la­bel for spring-sum­mer 2005 and had ex­panded into women’s by fall 2010. “Our women’s busi­ness was re­ally tak­ing off, and the de­mand for more of our time and energy on the women’s side be­came so great and the­men’s had sort of plateaued,” Fried­berg ex­plains. “So itwas ei­ther add in­fra­struc­ture and spend more money to nur­ture and grow a busi­ness that­was mak­ing zero money or shut it down.” The­men’s line was shut­tered af­ter ship­ping the fall 2012 col­lec­tion.

Re­boot: “We just started [pro­duc­ing menswear] again for fall 2014,” Fried­berg says. “So it’s a brand­new, com­plete start-up all over again, and we’re cur­rently in pro­duc­tion of our third sea­son.”

The look: Think West Coast su­per-ca­sual to the point of near-grunge. Denim, T-shirts, but­ton-front wo­vens, hood­ies and shorts with a fo­cus on washes, of­ten com­bined with dip dyes, screen prints, bleach splat­ters and dis­tress­ing that re­sults in off-the-rack gar­ments that have the feel of long-loved luxe. “If there­was a brand-new, per­fect white T-shirt on a rack next to an amaz­ing 40-year-old vintage T-shirt, we’d both grab the old T-shirt— or some­thing from an old pile of jeans— ev­ery time,” says Haller.

Key pieces: Dis­tressed denim patch­work five­pocket jeans, denim jack­ets and Western-style shirts bleached to the brink of de­struc­tion, and a mixed fab­ri­ca­tion asym­met­ri­cal zip hoodie in gray French cot­ton terry with faded denim arms.

Price range: T-shirts run from$98 to $180, denim from$295 to $495, but­ton-front wo­ven tops fall into the $250 to $350 range and non-denim ca­sual bot­toms a re $195 to $250.

Where to buy: In May, Fried­berg built an NSF shop in-shop in­side Amer­i­can Rag’s La Brea Boule­vard lo­ca­tion. Other South­ern Cal­i­for­nia sellers in­clude Bar­neys New York and Ron Her­man at the Fred Se­gal Cen­ter on Mel­rose Av­enue.

Col­lab­o­ra­tions: It’s fit­ting, given NSF’s em­bod­i­ment of swap­meet style, that Haller would first cross paths with Hil­lary Justin, founder and de­signer of Bliss and Mis­chief, at the Rose Bowl Flea Mar­ket. That meet­ing sparked a friend­ship that led to a col­lab­o­ra­tion that put Bliss and Mis­chief ’s Amer­i­can South­west-inspired chain stitch em­broi­dery on a lim­ited range of NSF shirts, jack­ets and jeans. The col­lec­tion launched for spring 2015, with the­men’s capsule ex­clu­sive to Bar­neys New York. Dis­tri­bu­tion ex­panded for fall 2015 and Haller says the part­ner­ship is set to con­tinue into pre-spring 2016, but only on the women’s side.

Women’s: The women’s col­lec­tion ac­counts for 90% of NSF’s sales, a fact that Fried­berg says ac­tu­ally takes the pres­sure off the fledg­ling men’s line. “It means the­men’s doesn’t need to be a busi­ness as much as a fun, com­pletely unique prod­uct that we’re su­per-proud of and feel re­ally rep­re­sents us well.”

Sales: Fried­berg says NSF is on track to do $6 mil­lion in whole­sale vol­ume in 2015.


NSF’S JAMIE HALLER and Nick Fried­berg at left; NSF Combo Asym­met­ric Zip Hoodie, $239.

Austin Har­grave

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