When Ginch Gonch Underwear founder Jason Sutherland joined former Tommy Hilfiger executive Brian Edgarin founding their new company, Beyond Big Branding Industries, Inc., their combined, innovative multi-branding expertise soon found them globally launching new designs through partnerships with some of the best brands in the international market. To date, their company portfolio includes some of the most distinctive underwear brands such as Piss & Vinegar, EXPOSE and LAZZYbum.
Yet prior to Beyond Big Branding’s rise to success, Sutherland had already long since been known for his boldly designed underwear lines and marketing techniques. In a discussion with PINK, the original Ginch-Gonch guy recounts how he pushed the political correctness of the underwear-making industry to the limits.
PINK: Hey Jason! When thinking of a title for this story, I tossed around “The Underwear King” and “The Branding King.”
King? Well, I wanted that title but I believe Nick Graham, founder of Joe Boxer, claimed it years ago. Queen was being kicked around but when I met Nick, I realized that he is happily married and I am too hairy for a tiara and those types of jewels.
PINK: Tell us about Beyond Big Branding Industries Inc.
Brian and I have started a machine for men, globally providing products that guys would like to have and other guys should be in. It’s a time when global males want stuff that makes them feel sexy and are masculine. We are approaching a time where guys are okay with being pampered. This evolution has quickly happened in, lets say, a short 10 years, so imagine what we are about to see with guys being able to buy what they want to make them feel good.
PINK: You are known for bringing fun into the men’s underwear business with your product designs. Men’s underwear was a bit boring before you came along. How did you get to where you are today and what led you to this industry?
How did I get to where I am today? Lots of mistakes, taking risks and loving seeing what was able to happen from an idea which became the inner fuel to push. Everyone has personal pride with what they do and being able to do something I love is truly the best fuel to keep me going.
It has been seven years of learning. In this industry, we get to see all types of people from various social environments. From the sales challenges, photo shoots, runways, and buyers from the best stores, we see how a product is made, sometimes in countries that need our industry to live and in climates that most would never step foot in. One day you are having dinner with the buyers of Selfridges and the next you are invited to dinner at the house of a cutter—those are two very different worlds.
PINK: Where did the names “Ginch Gonch” and “Piss & Vinegar” come from?
Ginch Gonch came from the idea of guys being able to talk about their parts without being embarrassed and at the same time, enjoying a bit of color down below. It’s mostly covered up anyway, so if you could imagine something putting a smile on your face when you hit the can. When I started Ginch Gonch, we came up with the Jolly Cock, a little happy chicken, and Wiener Eater and many other designs. The motto of Ginch Gonch is “Live Like a Kid.” A kid has that infectious belly laughter so all we wanted to do was make the wearer smile a few times during the day.
Piss & Vinegar is a much different product, Piss & Vinegar as the meaning of the saying “Full of piss and vinegar” is an energy in which one is attracted regardless of beliefs, understanding or current position. We grow and change and if you have enough Piss & Vinegar, you might lead a life admired by many. As in Jesus or Buddha, both icons were and are still full of this energy we all admire.
Piss & Vinegar, in its collections to date, has had the “I love” collection that refers to an emotion one cannot control or explain, the “Super Ewh” collection for something super dirty that most may never admit too, and the “Spectrum, Who defines Creed & Color.” For spring, there is the “SX DRGS RCK & RLL” collection, which is something everyone can relate to whether their time was in the Americana 60s, Punk 80s or today’s club beats that keeps them up all night dancing with freedom. Music is a historical unexplainable iconic thing that all humans love.
PINK: Your marketing campaigns have always been fun, naughty and full of gorgeous models. Is creating these campaigns the best part of your job?
It’s one of the great parts of this industry. I often say that when starting this business, I had no idea how many different body types I was going to meet and see. Naughty is when you have someone calling your office to find the right fit of underwear and describing there body parts to you. Or actually sending photos to the customer service agent so that their words can really resonate on what fit we are dealing with. Hearing people excited and a bit strange in their excitement is the best parts of the job. The second best is landing in so many different countries in world. We have a lot of parts on this globe the need to be covered up.
PINK: There has to be some crazy behind-the-scenes stories, right?
Are you kidding? YES.
Tammy, one of my favorite models, was flying overseas for the tradeshow circuit. She landed in London and was keep by agents for 36 hours for questioning due to not having the right paperwork in place and telling the agents that she was a model arriving for work. Oh the calls I received from her in the confinement, if I could have recorded them. “Ho, I can not handle it any longer, the walls are grey, you have to get me out of here pronto Jason. PRONTO. This color is not good for me!”
Or in Russia, when a guy (who shall remain nameless as he is in the fashion industry) pissed me off to no end about CK, CK, CK, it was the only underwear brand that he wore and I was simply trying to get him to TRY a pair on but instead he said, “you would have to rip them off me.” So in a hotel room full of people and with a camera recording, I did. I ripped them right off and from that video, we created the WEGGIE Contest. Funny times. There is a new story every week!
We could even talk about the stuff that is not as much fun such as manufacturers going bankrupt with 50% of your cash and the bank not releasing the products, or tradeshow booths being re-routed to cities that you had no idea existed, or a crazy pattern maker who smoked so much that there was a line of exhaust staining his face. Like any business, this industry is full of characters and personalities, people will take your ideas and intellectual properties and if they have enough money and your not careful, they will take your whole company with promise and just leave you with regret.
PINK: Each of your brands has a distinctive story and audience. LAZZYbum is for the “adrenaline junky.” EXPOSE is inspired by Columbian men “who know they are beautiful and are not afraid to flaunt it.” What inspires you and these concepts?
LazzyBUM is everything the Jones aren’t, everything but being lazy. LazzyBUM is about catching what comes at you with a bit of an attitude. Every Guys GUY can relate to this. Guys who want to make the trucks muddy, guys who want to jump out of planes and eat the fat off the stake, guys who live their days with exercise not because they want the best abs but because they are simply addicted to feeling good.
Look, concepts are emotions so I trigger an emotion that one can relate too. Regardless of an idea, it is nothing if you cannot create a memory or relate to present day with an “I wish I could.”
PINK: You are celebrating the first year of Beyond Big Branding, what are your goals for 2011?
Beyond Big Branding is opening stores and building out its products range with classic innovations. We are building out categories in every line as well as a few more new lines hitting the floors for Fall 2011. We have partners in Australia, Germany, France, and the Netherlands – all the major countries that are building out and behind triumphant growth of the company’s brands. We are really excited about our newly formed relationships with Kuwait and India.
PINK: What is next for Jason Sutherland?
I have made a personal quest to GRAB 2011 by the BALLS. It’s a GREAT year and it may be my last with the freedom of kid as I am doing everything I can to adopt and become a single Dad. I am currently getting some practice with Jesse, my 6-month old Fox Terrier who is truly pampered. I am preparing my head for committing and loving one or maybe two kids. My publicist Jeff adopted two boys a couple of years ago so I hear all about the growing pains and accomplishments. Sometimes it freaks me out and then I just want it more. My mom is excited to hopefully have another grandchild, to help me raise and to watch me be a father.
Check Jason wedging's video nameless: at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1023941804979432441#