New York-based menswear designer John Varvatos plans to take on the European fashion world with shops in major cities across the continent, opening his first shop in London this weekend.
The brand, which was founded in 2000 and counts major celebrities like Zac Efron and Ben Affleck as fans, opened its 12 Conduit Street in central London with a huge #PeaceRocks advertising campaign featuring ex-Beatles Ringo Starr painted across London’s iconic double decker busses.
Plans include to add stores in Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Germany in the next few years.
Varvatos— a Detroit native and hardcore rock and roll music fan has done a masterful job of incorporating his love for music into his fashion empire. The label has associated itself with music since being founded in 2000, previously using rockers Iggy Pop, Greenday, Dave Matthews and Kiss as campaign faces, as well as creating a Jimi Hendrix-inspired clothing line.His ad campaigns over the years have featured legendary rock stars and his trademark shop in New York City happens to be the old CBGB club, a legendary haven for punk and rock and roll bands in the 1970s and 80s that Varvatos saved when he took over and preserved the space that was destined to be taken over by a national chain in the ever popular Bowery neighborhood in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
In addition to being a European first, the new John Varvatos London shop will also be the brand’s largest, spread over three floors and almost 10,000 square feet of space. In addition to his own line of shoes and boots, the London store will stretch to include Varvatos’s footwear collaboration with Converse.
A live music area and shoppable memorabilia collection has also been confirmed for the basement.
The space will be used to launch a styling and a tailoring service, John Varvatos Made-to-Measure.
When he’s not designing clothes and shoes, Varvatos is busy promoting and supporting charitable and philanthropic causes that are near and dear to his heart. In an interview with The Pappas Post, he called his passion for philanthropy “the Greek in me.” He hosts an annual fundraiser in Los Angeles for Stuart House, a center for sexually abused children that attracts Hollywood celebrities and has raised millions of dollars over it’s ten-plus year annual run.
John also serves on the board of directors of the Greek America Foundation, a Chicago-based non profit that promotes Greek culture and ideals and has extensive programs for young people, including scholarships for study abroad in Greece and an internship program.
Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983 as a young designer. 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. Made famous by a series of 1992 print ads featuring Mark Wahlberg, they have been called “one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the century.” Typical of Varvatos’ humility, he often jokes about their creation Varvatos said— “We just cut off a pair of long johns and thought, this could be cool …”
In 1995, Varvatos returned to Ralph Lauren as head of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and created the Polo Jeans Company.
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 all John Varvatos boutiques including the 315 Bowery boutique. In addition, the collection is available in select luxury retail stores. In 2001, John Varvatos was licensed to create a line of high-end Converse shoes; a partnership that continues today.