John Varvatos grateful to be in Detroit

Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 17:18:02-04

John Varvatos is a fashion icon known around the world but he grew up in Allen Park with humble beginnings.

"900 square foot bungalow house with 7 people in three little bedrooms and one bathroom," he said. "My family is still here. I have a couple of brothers that live here. I've never lost my connection at all with Detroit. I worked my way through school here."

His fashion career started out stocking items at a Hughes and Hatchers store in Dearborn.

Varvatos talked about that experience at a leadership conference Thursday at the Motorcity casino.

He also spoke about the importance of supporting Detroit and opening a store on Woodward Avenue.

"The whole idea is to bring people back in from the suburbs both for retail for shopping, living, culture all of that and not go out any people did in the 60's and 70's."

Because of his local roots, Varvatos is an obvious spokesperson for the Motor City, starring in a couple of Chrysler commercials.

Before having his own line of clothes, he worked for Calvin Klein. That's where he created the legendary boxer brief 25 years ago.

"Some things happen by mistake. That was a little bit of playing around in the studio, cutting off some long johns, he explained. "Very few people get to work on something that has an iconic value and transcends cultures and countries and is loved by men around the world."

When you walk in to his shop on Woodward Avenue, it is clear the designer gets his inspiration from the Motor City and its music.

"Iggy and the stooges had an album called Funhouse and inside when we used to have albums and inside of that album cover they were laying around on an oriental rug with a black leather jacket. It's a jacket I bought when I was in high school, that I loved to death, that I still own. It's a little slimmer when I got it at the time."

And he has this message for his fans: "Grateful to be back in Detroit I love it."