John Varvatos

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Varvatos
John Varvatos (2006)
Born (1954-08-08) August 8, 1954 (age 68)
Detroit, Michigan, US
EducationEastern Michigan University
Label(s)John Varvatos and John Varvatos Records [1]
AwardsPerry Ellis Award for Menswear, 2000; CFDA: Menswear Designer of the Year, 2001 and 2005; GQ: Designer of the Year, 2007
Store at 315 Bowery, New York
Bottle of John Varvatos VINTAGE
Model wearing items from the John Varvatos Collection of Fall/Winter 2010/11

John Varvatos (born 1954) is an American menswear designer.[2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

The Varvatos family is originally from the village of Poulata on the island of Kefalonia, Greece. Varvatos was born in Detroit and grew up in Allen Park, Michigan.[5]

He attended Allen Park High School. At the age of 16, he got a job selling menswear at the Hughes & Hatcher store in nearby Dearborn.[6]

He attended Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan.[7]

Early career[edit]

After graduating in 1980, he co-founded a menswear store, Fitzgerald's Men's Store, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[8]

Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983. He then moved on to Calvin Klein in 1990 where he was appointed head of menswear design and oversaw the launch of the men's collection and the cK brand. During his time at Calvin Klein, Varvatos pioneered a type of men's undergarment called boxer briefs, a hybrid of boxer shorts and briefs.[9] Made famous by a series of 1992 print ads featuring Mark Wahlberg,[9][10] they have been called "one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the century."[9] Of their creation Varvatos said in 2010, "We just cut off a pair of long johns and thought, this could be cool ...".[9]

In 1995, Varvatos returned to Ralph Lauren as head of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and created the Polo Jeans Company.[11]


In late 1999, Varvatos started his company, debuting his first clothing line at the end of 2000 in New York. The brand now includes belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear, watches and fragrances.

In September 2000, within months of showing his first collection, Varvatos opened a freestanding boutique in SoHo. The collection is currently distributed in John Varvatos boutiques including the 315 Bowery boutique in the space that formerly housed the underground music club CBGB.

2009 saw the launch of New York Nights…Direct From the Bowery, a monthly radio show hosted by Varvatos on Sirius XM's The Spectrum channel. The show includes songs and interviews from various artists who have influenced Varvatos throughout his career in fashion.[12]

In 2012, Varvatos joined the cast of celebrity mentors on NBC's Fashion Star, a reality competition series that searched for the next big brand in fashion.[13] In 2013, he saw the release of a limited edition Chrysler 300 in his name. In 2014, he partnered with Monte Lipman's Republic label to launch John Varvatos Records, initially signing the Zac Brown Band.[14]

Varvatos credits his early obsession with rock 'n' roll as the catalyst for his interest in fashion. The ad campaigns for the main collection, shot by Danny Clinch, have featured such musicians and bands such as Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Velvet Revolver, Chris Cornell, Dave Matthews, The Roots, and Green Day.[citation needed]

John Varvatos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May of 2020.[15] In 2021 Varvatos founded OTD.


Music is also central to the brand's philanthropic efforts, including the Save the Music Foundation and an annual Stuart House benefit.[16] In July 2014 it was announced that Ringo Starr would be modelling for the fall/winter advertising campaign, and that an associated charitable initiative would benefit The Ringo Starr Peace and Love Fund, in aid of the David Lynch Foundation. Commenting, Varvatos said, "Both inner peace and global peace are very important topics to me".[17][18][19]

Partnership with Converse[edit]

In 2001, Varvatos and Converse formed a partnership and Varvatos was licensed to create a line of high end sneakers,[20] John Varvatos' sneakers were usually produced in the style of High Top Chuck Taylor All-Stars.[citation needed] The partnership has since ended, and Varvatos now produces a Bootleg brand show line in a similar Chuck Taylor style.


Varvatos had first received accolades from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 2000 when he was honored with the Perry Ellis Award for Menswear. The following year he won the 2001 CFDA's Designer of the Year award.

In 2005, Varvatos received the CFDA's 2005 Menswear Designer of the Year award at the New York Public Library. The recipients are determined by a selection committee of top magazine editors, journalists, stylists and retailers from around the world. He competed for the top honor along with Ralph Lauren and John Bartlett for his third CFDA win. In 2007, Varvatos was named GQ's Designer of the Year.[21]


  1. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Finn, Robin (April 25, 2008). "A Man of High Style and Punk Tastes". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  3. ^ Schultz, Jonathan (May 12, 2011). "Chrysler Exports 'Imported From Detroit' to New York". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  4. ^ Sisario, Ben (April 19, 2008). "This Ain't No Nightclub (at Least Not Anymore)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  5. ^ Conlin, Jennifer (April 29, 2015). "John Varvatos Goes Home to Detroit". The New York Times. p. D7. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  6. ^ Benedetti, Marti (April 21, 2016). "For John Varvatos, apparel threads a career that started in Dearborn". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  7. ^ Schwartz, Robin (October 22, 2014). "Fashion 'Rock Star' John Varvatos to Open Detroit Store". Opportunity Detroit. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Truman, Todd (May 6, 2010). "Grand Fashion: ZZ Top fan, designer John Varvatos got his start at Fitzgerald's men's store in Breton Village Mall". MLive. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d Gell, Aaron (September 1, 2010). "Rock Steady". Hemispheres. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Wilson, Eric (May 12, 2010). "Stretching a Six-Pack". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  11. ^ "John Varvatos Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  12. ^ "John Varvatos to Host 'New York Nights…Direct from the Bowery' on Sirius XM". Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  13. ^ "Fashion Star on NBC". NBC. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "Scott Borchetta and John Varvatos are on a mission to revive rock 'n' roll". The Tennessean. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  15. ^ "John Varvatos Files for Bankruptcy". Apparel News. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  16. ^ "Stuart House Charity Benefit". Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  17. ^ Faure, Tiffany. "Make Ringo Starr's Birthday Wish Come True—Post a Peace Sign Selfie For a Good Cause!". Retrieved August 1, 2014. This charity fund, which is in support of the David Lynch Foundation, teaches Transcendental Meditation and other stress-reducing techniques to at-risk populations suffering from chronic stress and stress-related disorders that fuel crime, violence and costly medical expenditures.
  18. ^ Tran, Khanh T.L. (7 July 2014). "John Varvatos Throws Ringo Starr a Birthday Bash". WWD. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  19. ^ "Show Us Your Peace Sign". John Varvatos. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  20. ^ "About". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  21. ^ Foxley, David (November 29, 2007). "GQ Crowns 'Men of the Year'!". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2013.

External links[edit]