Longtime menswear fashion designer John Varvatos is reinventing himself with his eight-month-old brand OTD, a unisex clothing line with stores in New York and Los Angeles.
“When I started this, it was about a new story,” Varvatos tells The Hollywood Reporter about the beginnings of OTD. “I really felt like I had a new story. I wanted to reinvent myself. It was that moment during COVID that I had this kind of lightning bolt. I had this story that I’ve been playing around with, which is what this brand is.”
OTD stands for “On This Day,” and its collections feature clothing, jewelry, footwear and accessories for all genders. With its flagship store located in the heart of Soho in New York City, the unisex line has found a second home in Los Angeles on West Hollywood’s iconic Sunset Strip in the same space where H&M previously stood. It’s the latest in Varvatos’ ongoing journey to round out his business ventures. From his own record label to tequila brand Villa One (that he started with Nick Jonas), Varvatos isn’t focused on just menswear anymore. This summer, Varvatos and Jonas launched a pop-up tequila bar on the Las Vegas Strip to promote their brand Villa One.
As for OTD, the brand is the designer’s follow-up fashion company after his eponymous menswear line filed for bankruptcy in 2020, following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around, OTD encompasses women’s, men’s and unisex styles. As the name implies, patrons are encouraged to utilize fashion and personal style to write their own story “on this day” — living in the moment, each and every day.
“Whatever the word is, I don’t really care,” Varavtos says in regard to the differences between men’s and women’s clothing. “I just know that when people walk through the store, they’re just looking at clothes. They’re not determining generally if it’s a guys or girls thing. So, you know, we don’t want to put that on them.” Save for differences in sizing for certain pieces, the designer says that most of the OTD collections are “fairly fluid.”
He continues, “The unisex part is a fun part of it because you don’t have to explain it to people, they just get it. Girls get it, guys get it. It’s part of a lot of people’s lives today in their wardrobe.”
The idea for On This Day was sparked by a particular Facebook notification, in which the platform shows users memories from past posts on each day over the years. In one’s Facebook newsfeed, the notification reads: “On This Day.”
“I would get these things in my Facebook feed. And it would say on this day, April 25, 2017,” Varvatos explains. “It made me think about celebrating great moments in time. And that’s what that was. Somehow their algorithms picked up that it was something special, or that being together with people is something special.”
With OTD, Varvatos has created an elevated brand that is still functional, designed to be dressed up or down for each individual. For women, blazers, oversized knits and plaid overalls take a luxe approach to androgyny. For both men and women, stylish tracksuits led the way for the fall collection, along with cozy knits, sweaters and coats that all fit into that “between-season dressing” category. There’s a ton of sports-inspired pieces from French terry sweats to hockey jerseys and basketball tanks — all designed for versatility that can be transitioned for day to night wear. There’s also a sustainability element, with some of the garments being made with material from recycled plastic bottles.
The celebrity designer zeroed in on pop culture as another major influence for OTD’s essence. “You go to an NBA game today and it’s like a runway show there,’” he says. “When you look at who’s in the audience, who’s in the front row. Contemporary arts has become such a huge part of our culture, as well. I wanted to be inspired with those kinds of things.”
Going forward, Varvatos anticipates opening two or three more OTD stores this fall, in addition to pop-up stores in the meantime. “Pop-ups have been really fun and not complicated,” the New York-based designer says. “Building a store takes six months. Opening a pop-up you can do in two weeks. That’s fun, you know?”
But when it comes to the future, Varvatos strives for his business to succeed. “I’m not trying to repeat,” the designer says. “I really am just trying to do something new and inspiring to me and to my team that we can be successful with, you know? In the end, you want to be successful. I wish it was just for fun, but it can’t all be just for fun.”
OTD is located at 8580 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069.