Beyond the Pen Duo Grows a Fashion Line in Louisville

By Minda Honey  |  Fashion

If you ask Keith Nash what he’s most proud of in life, he’d probably tell you his 5-year-old daughter; she starts kindergarten this fall. Close second? The street wear fashion line he launched with his close friend James Ray. Beyond the Pen, established in 2012, is also turning 5 this year. The two dropped their winter collection, “Olive Branch,” in January. Nash says the pair is taking the spring and summer off to visit trade shows and boutiques around the nation: “We decided to take a step back and refocus our image. We want to appeal to a broader audience.”

Courtesy Photo

You can still cop pieces from their current collection locally at Established Premium Goods on Muhammad Ali Boulevard or from their website, btpc12.com. Their clothes are also carried in shops in Cincinnati and Atlanta and they have plans to expand into Indianapolis and San Francisco next. Nash says he and James, both sons of single moms, based their aesthetic on the type of things you wanted when you were a kid but couldn’t get. “We recreate those memories with a modern spin,” he affirms.

“We want to give you the tools to build your own sense of fashion,” says Nash. BTPC aims to stay away from trends – they prefer to focus on “everyday fashion.” Nash believes that you don’t have to chase celeb styles to fit in. Trends change so quickly and can be so costly that you might find it difficult to keep up. According to Nash, it’s better for you, and your finances, if you cultivate your own looks. One trend he’s ready to see go? “Tanks! I hate them.” Instead, Nash suggests reaching for a light cotton blend tee when the temps begin to rise. You’ll feel just as chill but look a little more polished.

Both Nash and James were born and raised here in Louisville, but Nash did a stint in Chicago and Ray spent some time living out in Los Angeles. While in those larger cities, they witnessed what other designers accomplished with homegrown fashion lines and decided to bring their dreams back to the Derby City. The duo spends a lot of time taking in art, following the trajectory of other niche street wear brands, and researching fabric.

Until Beyond the Pen’s new collection hits the racks this fall, Nash suggested some other local fashion lines to support. He’s a huge fan of what Sunken Sailor is doing with tees and baseball caps; No Vision (find their pastel accented totes and hats at Established Premium Goods); Life’s Journey, whose designer is from Louisville but spends much of his time in Atlanta; and local gender-neutral clothing boutique BloFish.

BTPC has experienced steady growth over the last several years and Nash is amazed by how far they’ve come: “We’ve gone from selling graphic tees out of our trunks to being sold nationally.” Be the first to know when BTPC drops their new line and support a local fashion line by following them on social media @btpc12 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. VT