February 23, 2016
Walking the streets of Washington, D.C. last summer, North Wales native Anthony Noce couldn't help but notice there were "a thousand" gay-catered underwear stores in the city. When he took trips to New York, it was largely the same deal.
Philadelphia, though? Not a butt-hugging brief or Speedo in sight.
And so he began Nutz & Boltz.
The 800-square-foot men's boutique, located at 1220 Spruce St. (across from Valanni), takes the concept of those gay-oriented intimate apparel stores and drops it in the Gayborhood. So far, marquee underwear and swimwear brands in the shop include Andrew Christian, Marco Marco and Nasty Pig, all of which feature designs you'll regularly see dotting the shores of Rehoboth and Fire Island in the summer.
"It's gay-oriented, fancy underwear," Noce told PhillyVoice. "And I’m trying not to have too many basics, but I will have basics in -- Bread & Boxers, who do some really nice fabrics. Boxer briefs will be coming in from them that are gray, black and white. No labeling, and generic if you want something generic.
"But I’m very open to others’ ideas in terms of product in the store."
Noce is a Drexel University alumnus whose resume includes design gigs with Hartstrings, Michael Kors and Macy's. He launched the store after leaving Hartstrings in May, faced with the option of continuing on in the corporate world or starting his own business. Because of his broad background in design, he's looking to complement his array of underwear and swimsuits with apparel. Already on board are slim-fit jeans from Cheap Monday, loungewear from Diesel, T-shirts from Costalamel (a Barcelona brand you won't find anywhere else) and graphic tees from Eleven Paris, with plans for his own Nutz & Boltz line of underwear and apparel down the line.
Though, he emphasized he's also looking for Philadelphia designers to carry in his shop, for a bigger Philly tie-in.
“Any Philadelphia designer who wants to sell their products in here, I would love that," he said. "If they can make five garments for me -- one small, two mediums, one large and one extra large -- and want to sell it out of the store, I’ll sell it for them."
As the brand evolves, Noce added he hopes to further integrate into the social fabric of the Gayborhood through cross-promotion specials. He also hopes to get non-gay crowds feeling comfortable shopping in intimate stores like his, which isn't shy about planting a photo book of mostly naked men by the cash register.
He likened the ideal shopping scenario to getting straight men as comfortable in his boutique as straight women tend to be while perusing a Victoria's Secret store, often stocked with posters of women in bras and panties. Considering recent strides the LGBT community has made worldwide, he said it's prime time for that lingering discomfort to be addressed.
“It’s a different world now, and I’m hoping to help with that," he said. "To make [shopping for men's intimate wears] a little bit better, more accepting to a degree. Because while I’m still selling gay products, obviously, it’s not only gay product. I think a lot of straight men need to take into consideration that the underwear we’re selling, while it may be a little crazy to them, is desirable. I’ve had a lot of girlfriends come and buy for their boyfriends – a lot of it."
The store soft-opened earlier this month but will host its grand opening on Friday, Feb. 26, from 5-9 p.m. with Champagne and a storewide 15-percent-off discount. (Twenty percent off if you're a 12th Street Gym member.) Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.