Published On: Wed, Nov 22nd, 2023

How Pit Viper Built ‘Party Mountain’ Out of Potty Humor and ’90s Nostalgia

How Pit Viper Built ‘Party Mountain’ Out of Potty Humor and ’90s Nostalgia
How Pit Viper Built ‘Party Mountain’ Out of Potty Humor and ’90s Nostalgia

When Chuck Mumford first launched Pit Viper, the Salt Lake City-based sunglass company he founded with college buddy Chris Garcin in 2012, he picked up an old Samsonite briefcase at Goodwill, spray painted it neon colors, and filled it with a bunch of the outrageously bright military-grade sunglasses he’d designed.

“I would take it everywhere I went,” Mumford says. “I was totally ruthless.”

The Pit Viper founders call this “briefcasing,” and Garcin says it’s become a hallmark of their marketing strategy. “You get one party person to say, ‘Hey man, what’s in the case?’ and suddenly you’ve got five people reaching in and trying on glasses.”

The company, which sells wildly colorful wraparound sunglasses, says on its website that it is “serious about taking things less seriously.” The glasses come in adult and kid sizes and run anywhere from $40 to $140, with a range of styles suited for beach sports, cycling, snow sports, and ball sports. The company’s mission, per its website, is clear: “Pit Viper is here to party. Sunrise to sunset, reef breaks to ridge lines, hole shots to holy shit.”

From the design of the website itself (think Windows 2000 on shrooms) to the brand’s social media feed and the ridiculous emails it sends to customers, the Pit Viper experience is an exercise in revisiting the neon-colored, potty-humor-filled, throw-down vibe of the ’90s. (One Pit Viper confirmation email says, “Thank you for shopping at Pit Viper. We are a business,” and includes a link to an absurd video featuring a man on fire running through an office building with every worker at every desk wearing Pit Vipers.)

Having now logged 10 years in business, Pit Viper has about 100 employees and has earned many millions of dollars in revenue. (Pit Viper, as a private company, doesn’t disclose its finances, though in one 2022 Wall Street Journal story the company reported revenue upwards of $40 million that year.) Mumford and Garcin are riding high on a low-tech design aesthetic, dirtbag ski culture, and hard-to-match customer loyalty. Their following includes outdoor adventurers, pro athletes, and weekend warriors. (Extreme skiing pioneer Glen Plake and NFL players Patrick Mahomes and Rob Gronkowski and are among the brand’s high-profile fans.)

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