John Varvatos’ second chapter has come to a close.
In October 2021, the menswear designer launched a new brand, On This Day, or OTD, just over one year after he had exited his namesake collection following a bankruptcy filing and sale to a private equity firm.
His ambitions were high and the first collection featured more than 200 stock keeping units for men and women as well as two sizable brick-and-mortar locations on both coasts.
But the brand and the business have now been shuttered.
The decision to close down came earlier this month with the website/e-commerce site as well as the 4,000-square-foot stores in New York’s SoHo and the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood shutting their doors.
Varvatos did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
One source close to the company attributed the failure of the business primarily to trying to launch an unknown label with that breadth of product in the middle of a pandemic.
It didn’t help that OTD also could not be associated with Varvatos because of contractual agreements with his former label. Instead of touting that Varvatos had designed the line, he was only referred to as the president of the company.
“He should have started smaller and built momentum rather than coming out so big right out of the gate,” one source said.
Varvatos started OTD after John Varvatos Enterprises filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020 after two decades in business. It was subsequently acquired by Lion/Hayman Cayman Ltd., an affiliate of majority partner Lion Capital, and is still in business, but the designer is not associated with the company.
OTD did not have the same rock-‘n’-roll aesthetic that the John Varvatos menswear brand had built its reputation upon. Instead, it leaned more toward sophisticated sportswear with a streetwear vibe tied to pop culture, with over half the styles women’s or unisex. Blazers, oversize knits, overalls, jackets and pants with racer stripes and jackets with animal jacquard prints were among the initial offerings.
At the time of the launch Varvatos said the funding came from friends and family, without institutional or private equity money.
Now that OTD has been closed, Varvatos’ plans for the future are unknown.
The designer grew up in Detroit and joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1984. He was recruited by Calvin Klein in 1990 to be head of menswear design. In 1995, he returned to Polo as head of menswear design for Polo Ralph Lauren, Double RL, Black Label and the Polo Jeans Co. He launched his own collection in 2000, the same year he received the Perry Ellis Award for New Menswear Designer from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He received his second CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2001.