“Everyone comes in here and they’re like, Dude, this is so chill,” said Nick Friedberg of NSF when we commented on how easy-going everything felt at the company’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. The laid-back scene just wasn’t what one might expect from a denimworld darling that produces four complete collections a year for women, and – as of this fall – a line for guys, too. But as Nick was quick to explain, he and designer Jamie Haller make a damn good team: “We’re super efficient and organized, and we’re really good communicators. Every day is like this. Chill. Fashion doesn’t have to be a crazy, frantic environment.”
NSF, which specializes in jeans with outrageous wash treatments and the t-shirts, plaids, and sweats one would want to wear with them, is all about bucking tradition. “If Nick doesn’t think that a wash or fit is awesome, and I don’t care about it, either, then we don’t do it – even if it’s something our stores want, or that we know is trending,” says Jamie. So if they want to make a jean that looks like it came out of a coal mine, or a jacket that looks like its sleeves got stuck in a paper shredder, they do it. And they wanted to make guys clothes again (Nick launched NSF, named for his initials, in 2005 as a men’s collection, but when Jamie came on board in 2011, they shifted their focus to women’s), so they did. “Jamie felt passionate about doing men’s again,” said Nick. “And really no one was doing for men what she has established for women – the great shapes with modern fits and killer washes with lots of dirt and rips.”
The collection, which includes the rad jean jacket that Nick is wearing here in our pictures, hit stores in September. Shop it below – along with some of our favorite women’s styles, too – and we think you’ll get why NSF can get away with doing whatever it is they want.
Tell us about your jacket, Nick.
It’s called the Adams and the wash is Reservoir. We only made a few of them. I’m a jean jacket junkie, a total vintage enthusiast, like Jamie, and jackets are my thing. Overcoats, military coats, jean jackets…I have a pretty killer collection. In terms of the fit of the Adams, I wanted it to be true to a vintage shape, where it’s kind of cropped on the body and super fitted. But, a lot of vintage jean jackets don’t have side pockets, or well pockets, which we added.
No side pockets? Really?
It depends on the year – Levi’s didn’t start putting these well pockets in their jean jackets until the mid-70s, I think. Before that, no pockets. And as a dude, you’re always reaching for those pockets. So we put them in.
How do you wear your Adams?
I always wear my jackets fully buttoned up. When I go to New York in the wintertime, I wear my t-shirt, and my jean jacket buttoned up with a coat over it. That’s how I live.
And your jeans?
These are the first production cut of our men’s Ozzy jean. They’re a slim fit, in Rummage wash. Every summer I take my jeans and cut them off. I’m pretty robotic, if it’s hot, I’m wearing shorts for four months straight. And then as soon as it gets cold, I go back to wearing jeans again. Same sneakers, same t-shirt. I don’t really sway too much.
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Jamie, tell us about your jeans. They look loved.
These are the women’s Owen – a straight slouchy slim fit – in the Mendocino wash. My shirt is actually a men’s sample, but we make it for women, too, and it has the same wash, same fabric. This shirt is an example of where we’ve tried to set ourselves apart – it’s expensive, but we didn’t compromise in terms of what we wanted to do to it with the wash, and in the end it’s been a best-seller. What we feel passionate about it usually what works best, and it just reaffirms that following our hearts, or doing what we really get excited about, is probably going to be what other people get excited about, too.
Do you guys ever worry that what you do so beautifully is going to go out of fashion?
Nick: We don’t worry about that, I think it’s something that were are totally conscious of. I don’t think we ever work as if this is going to be around forever. Every trend has its day. But denim is going to be around forever, and we’ll always be into something – Jamie is always going to be into new shapes, constantly innovating – and when that happens, whatever that is, we’ll do that.
Jamie: Yeah, what I am into always evolves. This is what I like right now, but I don’t feel like I’ll ever be that far off.