John Varvatos was born in Detroit and later grew up in Allen Park. Michigan. Upon entering the fashion business, he first joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983. In 1990, he moved on to Calvin Klein and was appointed the head of menswear design. It was there that he pioneered the boxer brief, a type of men’s underwear that combined both boxers and briefs. Brought to fame by actor Mark Wahlberg in 1992, the boxer brief is largely considered one of the greatest apparel creations in history.
In 1995, Varvatos returned to Ralph Lauren, this time appointed the head of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands. He also created the Polo Jeans Company the same year. Varvatos started his own clothing company in 1999 and released his first line the following year. Looking to rock ‘n’ roll as inspiration for his designs, Varvatos has had ad campaigns featuring musicians such as Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Dave Matthews.
Months after premiering his first collection, he opened a boutique in Soho. In 2001, he was also licensed to create a high-end line of Converse shoes. His first, self-titled fragrance for men was released in 2004. The company released nine other fragrances between 2006 and 2013. He was awarded the Perry Ellis Award for Menswear in 2000 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He was also honored as GQ’s Designer of the Year in 2007.
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