Rob Gronkowski isn’t a fan of my appearance. “You’re somewhat lame,” adds the NFL star, who is known as much for catching Tom Brady’s passes as he is for his party-boy attitude. It’s late March, and Gronk and I are riding a chairlift at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah, fresh off his fourth Super Bowl victory. “You’ve got the traditional winter jacket on,” he observes as he examines my Gore-Tex gear. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary.”
Knowing that the 32-year-old wore a denim jacket with the sleeves ripped off to Gronk Beach, a 2020 event in Miami that he dubbed the “championship of partying,” I ask him if tearing the sleeves off my coat will boost my style. He exclaims, “That would be better!”
This fashion criticism comes from a man who has crammed his six-foot-six-inch, 265-pound frame into a blue hooded sweatshirt, a yellow and black zebra-printed buff, and pink, yellow, and blue swimsuit trunks over a pair of snow pants today. To ski in the powder. Oversized sunglasses with splatter-painted red, white, and blue frames and a mirrored lens that covers his face like a windshield rest on his nose. Pit Viper, the firm that sells them, has gone from a ski bum selling sunglasses out of his truck to a multimillion-dollar-a-year company with 70 employees and 30,000 square feet of plum office and warehouse space in Salt Lake City in just nine years.
That meteoric rise has been fueled by a crude and humorous marketing campaign that features beer-swilling, mullet-wearing, denim-clad bros and ladies doing a variety of ill-advised stunts, such as jumping snowmobiles over buses; men and women alike getting the tongue-in-cheek pinup treatment; and juvenile, sexually charged jokes and innuendo. That, and a lot of nuance. The brand opposes the politically correct climate and communicates a message to a wide range of customers: when you wear Pit Vipers, you can say and do whatever you want, regardless of what others think.
Pit Viper’s Success Formula: Irreverence, Safety Glasses, and Rob Gronkowski first published on Outside Online.