Locals on hot list NSF
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.