The annual N.I.C.E Collective spring sample sale is a much anticipated, only-in-San Francisco happening. The line begins to form down the block well in advance, and when the warehouse doors finally swing open, a mass of gay men (and a few stylish straight dudes) converge on racks of luscious, heavily discounted fashions that encompass several seasons of the prolific brand. Clothing goes flying as the devoted jockey for position in front of everything from rows of mod off-black leather jackets to patterned, skin-tight long-underwear to tuxedo shirts with a twist: alternating maroon and green colors.
Oh, and fatigue green zippered leather combat boots that manage to look both masculine and feminine at the same time, another N.I.C.E signature.
N.I.C.E Collective is the brainchild of Joe Haller and Ian Hannula, club kids turned designers. The name stands for their personal motto: Navigate, Inform, Create & Explore–as well as their status as, well, really nice gay guys. While the brand may be best know for its SF hipster style, with robust laying to ward off the city’s ever changing weather, it’s sold in boutiques around the world (even Barney’s stocks it), and the collective has outfitted luminaries from the band Coldplay to Gavin Rossdale.
I discovered N.I.C.E when I borrowed a friend’s jacket to wear home on a frigid night out. Little did he know that I had fallen in love (with the jacket), and my friend was never getting it back. My obsession grew when I got a job last summer at the brand’s now defunct San Francisco store (located in the Castro, of course). To me, the N.I.C.E style signifies the quintessential urban soldier making his way, independent but also vulnerable, around the grime and glory of city life. When I put it on, readying for a trip to a nightclub, I feel like I have my armor on, and now I will not only survive but thrive.
NAVIGATE & EXPLORE the rest of the photo slide show, be INFORMED and CREATE some excitement for the boys at N.I.C.E Collective
Photos: Michael Page Wright