This Underwear Brand Whispers Sweet Nothings To You
Of all the clothes I throw together every morning to create an outfit, underwear is the one I rarely spend more than a passing thought on—let alone what my choice of underwear says about me. Yet that may all change thanks to a new Australian designer that cares more about fostering inspiration than falling into an oversexualized and hyperstylized stereotype. Guy Hastie has left the design labs at Ksubi to break out into a market desperately in need of change. Through his new signature brand Guy Lab, Hastie aims to create a strong foundation for a modern man’s wardrobe while also exploring the purpose behind discovering one’s inner self.
They are lofty goals, but with a collection stitched together from organic cotton, and one that includes five customizable waistbands in his Core, Series, and Mantra lines, Guy Lab looks poised to become the underwear brand we never knew we needed. We caught up with Hastie for an early morning wake-up call to talk the origins of the label’s name, underwear fetishes, mantras, and jock straps.
Now, I know your name is Guy, but where did you come up with the name Guy Lab?
I’d always known I wanted to use my name in the brand to make it more personal, and to give people an opportunity to have choices and personalize what they’re wearing. The “Lab” part comes from the idea of a laboratory that’s creating cool products for guys. I really want the brand to grow into a series of lifestyle products in the future but, at this point, it’s purely underwear. The name “Guy Lab” worked well with my aesthetic and vision for the brand.
Your brand is obviously very focused on men, but fashion is heading towards a more gender neutral focus. Have you thought about this at all moving forward?
No, it’s not really something I’ve thought about to be honest. At this point, my market is men and women with their guys. It’s definitely something for thought.
What prompted the switch from outerwear at Ksubi to strictly underwear?
I felt that it was it was a way in. It’s just me running the whole business so I wanted a core product I could eventually build from. It’s really difficult to do a men’s brand—especially coming from Australia. I needed to do something different. I don’t have a fetish for underwear but I’ve always had an interest in high-end underwear pieces. That’s what drove me more than anything. I’m also a big fan of packaging so I wanted to create my own unique packaging.
The boxes that the underwear come in are also really unique and customized to the exact fit and style, which doesn’t happen often. How many iterations are there?
I didn’t want something with stickers or generic packaging so I have 69 screens that I custom print.
Of course it’s 69. Was that accidental or did you plan for it to have a sexual connotation given that it’s underwear that markets a lot to gay men?
[Laughs] I’ve never really thought about it like that.
With Series, a customer can have “cute,” “lucky,” or “nice” on the waistband. Who would you consider the target customer with these?
When we looked at which adjectives to use, I thought about gay men and what they’d go for but it’s been popular with women buying a gift for their boyfriend. With “cute,” I knew gay guys would go for that while “nice” is aimed at straight customers. “Lucky” is successful with everyone. We also have our core part of the collection that is more addressed to a straighter male customer. I tried to cover all areas there. It is about the pink and the green, isn’t it?
Moving into the new year, what direction do you plan to take with the brand?
I have plans to do a film but first I need to look at underwear and how it’s seen in the market. How it’s projected in the market and think about ways to showcase it, you know? For my brand, underground is best. I really want to keep it low-fi and find more artistic ways of representing the brand.
“I wanted to bring empowerment to underwear and explore that a little bit.”
You are the only underwear brand I’ve seen that has a mantra on one of the waistband options. Where did “we must bring our own light into the darkness” come from?
Once I left my job at Ksubi, I went to India and went on a spiritual hiatus to learn all about self-empowerment—that’s another underlying message within the brand. With the really over-sexualized underwear brands on the market, guys are getting detached from themselves. I wanted to bring empowerment to underwear and explore that a little bit. I’ve had that mantra in my little book of mantras for awhile and I thought it really dictated the direction of the collection.
I had this vision of guys being out in the club—gay guys in particular—and their shirts off and being really proud of their exposed underwear. I thought, “What could we do to bring these guys together?” I feel with this underwear and these waistbands, it’s a talking point or an icebreaker—it opens up channels of communication. You want to be the cute guy or you feel lucky. It’s a way of conversing without actually having to talk to each other.
I definitely think if you had a jock strap with “we must bring our own light into the darkness,” it would bring a whole new meaning to it.
Exactly! Maybe I’ll try it, I got some spare elastic. I can send you one and see how it works out. [Laughs]
All photos shot exclusively for Milk by Carlos Santolalla
Stay tuned to Milk for more cute boys in their underwear.