John Varvatos is a man of many talents. Best known as a designer, he is also a serial entrepreneur and has founded several businesses including: John Varvatos Fashion Brand, John Varvatos Records, Villa One Tequila and his new clothing line, OTD.
He is also a committed philanthropist. Music is central to everything he does, including his philanthropy, which includes the Save The Music Foundation, an annual benefit from Stuart House. He is also passionate about meditation and inner peace and has donated to the David Lynch Foundation.
Deep down, however, Varvatos is an entrepreneur.
He started his entrepreneurial adventure very early. Shortly after graduating from college, he co-founded a men’s clothing store in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
It was there that he “cut his teeth” in the fashion world and learned how to run a business.
In 1983 he joined Polo Ralph Lauren where he learned all about running a successful brand from one of the best to ever do it, Ralph Lauren.
Varvatos said: “When I joined Ralph Lauren in the 80s there was nothing like it in the world. If you went to a Bloomingdales, for example, there were no shop-in-shops back then. Ralph sort of pioneered all of this. Create a look. Create a culture. And create an aesthetic in connection with the consumer. And make things ambitious. All of those things are part of my DNA and my soul today because he did it the best in the world.
After a successful period at Ralph Lauren, he left to join Calvin Klein where he invented a new product that forever changed the men’s underwear business: the boxer brief.
Before that, there were only men’s boxers or briefs. And it had been that way for a hundred years.
But Varvatos changed all that.
He said: “From when I first left Ralph Lauren to when I came back, I was head of design at Calvin Klein. Inventing the boxer is something that me and the team created. Calvin was super behind and excited about it. He said, ‘You’re really onto something here.’ And David Geffen actually recommended Mark Walhberg for the campaign. He was like 17 years old. And that helped propel the business from almost non-existent at the time to the biggest business he has today: the underwear business.
After his time at Calvin Klein, he returned to Ralph Lauren, for a short period, but he aspired to create a brand himself.
In 1999, Varvatos created his own company, John Varvatos, and launched it in late 2000 in New York. In addition to clothing, the brand now includes: belts, handbags, shoes, glasses, watches and perfumes.
Varvatos has some great advice for any budding entrepreneur. He said: “For any entrepreneur, I would say it’s about following their passion. But then, do you have all the tools to execute it? Because if you can’t execute, the dream will never come true.
After leaving the John Varvatos brand, in 2020 he launched his latest line, OTD. It is a multi-gender brand that features a synergistic assortment of women’s, men’s, and unisex apparel as well as footwear, jewelry, and accessories. OTD explores the modern experience of style and its inextricable ties to pop culture.
Varvatos said, “I just launched this On This Day, OTD brand, and the whole DNA and ethos of this company is in the storytelling. So when we started with OTD, I kept seeing these old photos, of things that happened that day, on my phone. I wanted to celebrate those special moments that are happening today, or have happened over time, that have inspired me and could inspire others. It could be for clothes or for other big things we want to celebrate.
And, of course, Varvatos couldn’t stop at just one project. He also recently co-founded a tequila brand with Nick Jonas called Villa One Tequila.
Varvatos said: “I found myself sitting next to Nick Jonas, at a dinner party and, although we came from different worlds, we connected on so many things, like: family, music, style and just our passion for things. And at dinner, we drank tequila. And I asked him his story and why he was passionate about tequila. He said, “I like the taste. Also, I’m a type 1 diabetic and it’s the healthiest alcohol you can drink.
Later, they wondered, “Why is tequila so expensive?” Why do we have to spend $150 for a bottle of tequila that’s really good? Why can’t we make something that’s best in class at a much more accessible price? »
It’s available everywhere now. Visit VillaOneTequila.com to find the store nearest you.
And be sure to follow John because you never know when he’s going to release something new. As I said before, he is an entrepreneur at heart.