The 25-year-old creative and face of John Varvatos joined the famed designer at Nordstrom Michigan Avenue to toast their limited-edition collab.
Nick Jonas and John Varvatos at Nordstrom Michigan Avenue (Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Nordstrom)
From dropping his third solo album, 2016’s Last Year Was Complicated, to sharing the screen with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart in this year’s Jumanji, Nick Jonas has more than come into his own in the last few years. Film and music aside, the former teen idol has become a veritable sartorial star, too, with co-signs by GQ, E and other outlets for his eye-catching getups.
Now, Jonas is bolstering that style cred with his collaboration for John Varvatos, teaming up with the lauded menswear designer on the brand’s first-ever joint label, JV x NJ, a spring/summer 2018 limited-edition capsule collection of tees, jackets and other menswear staples. It’s the unanticipated byproduct, Varvatos explains, of meeting Jonas at a dinner party and forging a friendship that ultimately led to a working relationship: “You think about every generation, who’s the Renaissance Man, and [Nick’s] that….He’s a pretty special guy and that connection was the reason for wanting to work together.” During a recent Mag Mile stop, the two collaborators went deep on the process of working together, spring style staples and their must-visit Chicago spots.
It sounds like you two became fast friends. What were those shared mutual interests or appreciations that helped make the partnership organic when you were working together?
NICK JONAS: I think it’s a genuine love for what we do. I’ve been a fan of John’s for a long time and I’ve worn some of his clothing in some really important moments in my life and my career, so to be able to just sit and talk about life and music and fashion, without any eye towards working together was really nice, and we kind of saw pretty quickly that it was a great connection.
Music’s obviously hugely important given the DNA of the brand. Was there an artist or era of music that you drew from collectively as a reference point?
JOHN VARVATOS: Well, we talked a lot about Detroit, because his upbringing in New Jersey was not so dissimilar to my upbringing in Detroit…In the end, not so much about music, but from that point, we kind of talked about things that he loves, things that feel like they are iconic to him. Things that feel like they’re a lasting piece of your wardrobe and your life…We went through our archive and we really delved into those things that weren’t just for the moment that you were going to wear today, [but rather] a piece you pull out of your closet five years from now and it felt even better than it felt when you got it.
I imagine that for you, as a musician and an actor, and someone that’s always on the road, that’s hugely important to have a wardrobe built around these staples.
NJ: I think that it’s key to have things that you feel comfortable and confident in—like John said, that you can throw on in five years and it still fits and it feels good. There are so many pieces in my closet like that from his work over the years. I think that’s so important as a man when you get dressed to have those things you can rely on and know that you can go to it, whether it’s, in my case, a show or a premiere or something, or even going out to dinner. Feeling that confidence is really important.
Did you identify any similarities between collaborating on clothing design versus collaborating in the studio or on a film set?
NJ: Collaborating is always about finding your dynamic as creative partners, and what each person brings to the table. In my case, I’ve not designed clothes before, so I tried to be a student as much as possible, in the same way that when I’m on set with someone like Dwayne Johnson or Kevin Hart, or anybody that’s truly brilliant at what they do, you sit back a little bit and watch them do their thing and try to learn what you can….When you’re in the room with one of the greats, you sort of take that passenger seat and chime in when you can when it makes sense.
JV: He’s got a great eye, and I think the thing about it is his whole life and his career, as well, is all about the details, the little details too. It’s not always about some big noisemaker. And I think that’s the hardest thing to do, is to do things that are kind of simple in a way, because you don’t want to do things that are all-time greats but then they look like everybody else. You want to have your own stamp of identity on it. Nick worked with me on finding those points of view with everything [so] that they that felt comfortable; not just comfortable in the way they felt on your body, but the way they looked [and that] they also felt fresh at the same time.
A selection of pieces from JV x NJ
When you think of spring style, what are some good transitional pieces from the collection?
NJ: This [contrast bomber] was one of the pieces we did, which I love, which you can layer underneath a jacket or wear by itself depending on what the weather’s like, which is kind of what I did today—I had another jacket, just in case it was colder here than I expected.
Another thing that I love about fashion is the ability to make some bolder statements. We made the white jeans a real piece of the campaign and everything else. It’s been a part of my wardrobe for a long time: something that I love as a statement piece, without saying too much or trying to go overboard, but when spring comes around, when summer starts to roll around, a nice way to be subtle about your eye towards warmer weather.
What do you see as the future of the working relationship between the two of you?
JV: We’re talking about a lot of things. The evolution is really the continuation of building the friendship and exploring different things. Nick is also the face of our fragrance, which is pretty special as well. We’re talking about other things, but really haven’t nailed anything down at this point in time. Like the first go-around, we wanted it to be organic and right and feel good and not feel like we had to do something just to do it. We’re looking at things outside of fashion; I think those are the things that are intriguing to us as well.
Any favorite Chicago spots when you get a chance to visit the Windy City?
NJ: I actually thought about coming to school here; I almost went to Northwestern [University] a while ago. In my trips the last couple of years, I’ve really liked the Soho House, I think they did a great job with the Soho House here. On top of that, you got to go with the classics: the Chicago-style pizza, deep dish, is the best. I don’t eat a lot of pizza, but when I do, I try to carve out my time here to have a slice or two.
JV: I like Twin Anchors. It’s a place I went to many years ago. I lived in Chicago in the eighties for a little bit and it’s a place I went to, and so whenever I’m here for more than a day, I always find my way to Twin Anchors. Then, just checking out some blues late at night, it’s one of the best places for that as well.