bal harbour blog

Behind the Music: John Varvatos

John Varvatos, photo by Jenny Risher.

By Jessica Michault

John Varvatos is a menswear designer with a rock and roll soul. His collections are beloved for their ability to communicate a nonchalant cool that only true blue musicians seem to be able to pull off. Varvatos has found a way to bottle that style and, through his high quality fabrics and precise tailoring, give it to a world of men who still secretly yearn to rock out.

In an exclusive interview with Bal Harbour Shops, Varvatos reveals which iconic musician inspired his Fall/Winter 2015 line, why he decided to show his collection in New York—after 8 years in Milan—and which singer he would love to have as an ambassador for his brand.

You recently decided to show your menswear collection in New York with the inaugural Men’s fashion week. What was the thinking behind that? 
For me the decision to move our fashion show back to New York wasn’t an immediate decision. I’ve been showing at Milan, for nearly 8 years now and we've got a great relationship with city. But I'm an American designer, we're an American brand and New York City is my home, so we thought it was the right moment to come back to support this initiative.

Your Fall collection, which is coming into stores now, felt very New York in a way... as seen through the eyes of Bob Dylan. Can you describe what inspired the collection?
You’re right, I was inspired by Bob Dylan in the Sixties. His influence went beyond his music and reached a stylish and timeless elegance. Dylan could be any cool young guy today in the iconic Richard Avedon photo, walking with a contemporary awareness of style and ease. This collection was created for the guy who wants to dress up, mixing rocker chic wardrobe pieces and elements of a masculine and utilitarian aesthetic.

Musicians continue to be a big influence on your work what is it about these artists in particular that you find so inspiring?
At an early age I was exposed to defining musicians such as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Detroit’s own MC5, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, and The Stooges. The creative spirit, electricity and edginess intrinsic in the personal style of these rock ‘n’ roll icons are what inspires and influences me to this day.

In the past you have casted musicians in your advertising campaigns—Jimmy Page, Iggy Pop and Willie Nelson, among them. Who else would you love to have as an ambassador for your brand? 
There are many but Dave Grohl comes to mind.

What do you think about the current trend in menswear towards a blurring of gender lines?
It’s certainly a big topic at the moment but at the end of the day, I design for the John Varvatos guy. He’s cool and confident, and his sense of style is effortless but doesn’t compromise fit.

Some brands are gung-ho on using high tech fabric combos in their work; is that something that you’re interested in? 
For me it’s less about the latest tech fabrics and more about quality. I love the classics, like leather and suede for jacket and boots, or lightweight wools for tailored clothing and suits. These fabrications are timeless, and because we use high-quality material, they will last a very long time.


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