John Varvatos: Rock ‘N Roll’s Fashion Star

Music and fashion are two things that are almost inseparable. They feed off of each other, and help display an audible and visual representation of probably every culture imaginable. Generationally, the sound of the music   will change along with fashion’s hottest looks, some more often than others. But the one constant is the influence they each have on one other. John Varvatos has found a way to use that alliance to turn his line into one that rock stars and pop stars can both wear to rep the culture, and look good in the process.

John Varvatos is a high-end, menswear fashion designer who grew up in Detroit, also known as “Detroit Rock City” to some. Having always been a huge fan of music and having a love for fashion design, it’s no surprise that one of the things his brand sets out to do is to be one of the premier brands for rock ‘n roll fans and musicians. Varvatos paid attention early to the affinity between rock and fashion.


As recent as 2012, Varvatos talked about how he implemented some vintage rockstar styles into his materials. He spoke with Esquire about how he’ focused on blending his traditional look, with The Rolling Stones style of the early 70s. More specifically, during the time the group had gone to France to record. He said, “They went to France wearing their city clothes, and they left wearing things that were softer, lighter, and looser.” While the style was rather laid back, Varvatos’ flare and edge is what made it stand out then, and continue to stand out now.

Varvatos himself has been around in fashion for quite some time. He’s worked for two major players in the fashion industry throughout the 80s and 90s, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. The John Varvatos brand, however, has only been around since 2000, and they’ve been a pretty big deal ever since. The brand made its name off of using quality fabrics, with great detail, without being “over-the-top.” It was a clever blend of the past and the future with a rock ‘n roll twist, in which Varvatos credits the brand’s growth.



Part of that growth came just two years later when they did a line of shoes with Converse. An old school, yet young and vibrant collaboration project that assisted with brand evolution. “That line is very vintage-inspired, it’s younger, irreverent, playful, and that sort of thing,” Varvatos told men’s miscellaneous magazine, Ask Men. He continued, “but it also has a huge heritage factor to it that we’re very respectful of.”

Also instrumental in the line’s rise to prominence was the John Varvatos Star USA brand launching in 2005. The less expensive, brother brand was instrumental to target more customers. Beyond that, the John Varvatos website and online store was another brilliant way to get to more consumers. Accessibility is key in any business, and the John Varvatos team took things to the next level by making themselves more easily accessible.

Having already launched several flagship stores and the website, John Varvatos was quickly becoming a familiar name in fashion. How was he still so unknown, though? The answer is pretty simple, he wasn’t the face of the brand. In fact, it wasn’t until he took part on NBC reality series, Fashion Star, that the designer ever truly felt famous. He told Esquire, “I never wanted to be the face of the brand,” Varvatos says. “You haven’t seen me in my own ads. You don’t see my logo all over my clothes. From the beginning, I wanted the clothes to stand on their own.”


John Varvatos now boasts over 20 flagship stores. Most of them located in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. This past year Varvatos finally blessed the Midwest, and added a location to the list. What better place than his hometown of Detroit?. At the store’s opening, Varvatos told Detroit News, “It is an unbelievably exciting day to walk up to a store on Woodward Avenue and see my name on it.” A great moment for the city of Detroit and for Varvatos, he said, “I’m so honored to be part of Detroit at this time.”

-Blake Holmes