Nick Jonas has come a long way since his Disney Channel days: He broke off from JoBros Kevin and Joe to go solo in 2013, has landed major acting gigs like last year’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and, most recently, dove into the fashion industry with John Varvatos.
The Jonas and Varvatos limited-edition capsule collection recently launched, and features menswear essentials like knitwear and leather jackets. The duo stopped at Nordstrom in Chicago last week to celebrate the line — and greet hundreds of screaming fans. (He may have come a long way, but his Disney disciples have followed closely behind.)
Here, the two creatives share their fashion inspiration, design process and favorite pieces.
SPLASH: How did the two of you meet and decide to work together on this collection?
JOHN VARVATOS: I happened to be sitting next to Nick [at a dinner awhile back]. We started to talk, and we kept talking and ended up continuing that conversation the next day over a bottle of tequila. We were intrigued by each other I guess — different parts of what we do for a living, our families, what things inspire us in life. It was an immediate connection on a lot of fronts — most of it wasn’t even about fashion.
S: How would you each describe your personal style?
NICK JONAS: For me, it’s about mixing really classic elements with bold pieces to make a statement. I like to rely on the clothes I buy for a long time, and that was one of the things we talked about with this collaboration. [I like a piece] I can pull back out in two, three years and it fits the same, feels good, I feel confident in it.
JV: I think about my style as kind of imperfectly perfect. I like the imperfection of things, I like things that have a little twist to them; but in the end, the perfection is in the detail. There’s something kind of interesting about [that] whole mentality.
S: Nick, how much input did you have in the design process?
NJ: I was thrilled to be able to watch John and his process, and try to be a student in the best way I could. I’d never designed clothes before but I’m a big fan of what you can say with your clothes. From [having the freedom to give my input], something really organic and fresh was born. I think the key was trusting each other and learning what we could from each other, and having a good time doing it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, which is a nice, refreshing thing when it comes to fashion, music and creativity.
S: What is the most valuable thing John has taught you about fashion?
NJ: In a creative setting you can put a lot of pressure on yourself to make something that’s going to last and be important. I think we did do that, but it came to us in our chemistry as two friends first and having fun in the process. We’re both just enjoying the process of working together.
JV: It’s the point of feeling good about it and not being neurotic about things. I learned a lot about how he looks at style, [which is exactly how I look at it]: style is lasting and fashion kind of comes and goes.
S: Who do each of you get your style inspiration from?
NJ: I’m a big fan of film, and studying how much you can say —beyond the dialogue of the story — with the clothing. Daniel Craig is fun to watch with the statements he makes: classic elements, but he finds a way to keep it fresh and personal. Ryan Gosling is someone currently who [also] does a really good job with his style.
JV: For me it was people when I was growing up like Steve McQueen. He could put a T-shirt on and a pair of chino pants and the way he carried himself [was inspiring]. Part of style is the way you carry yourself — your persona, your confidence. … It’s not necessarily what someone’s wearing, but it’s the mentality that they can pull that together.
S: Nick, you’ve said your favorite piece is the Rock City graphic tee. What was the inspiration for that piece?
NJ: In one of our first conversations we talked about Detroit, where John’s from, and in some ways he had a similar upbringing to mine in New Jersey. We talked about what we could do to honor that great American city and tell a story. … It has a lot to do with our upbringing and how it influenced the creative people we became.
JV: We talked about downtown Detroit and how — unlike Chicago, where the city is based from the downtown and moves out — after the riots in the ’60s and ’70s [in Detroit], everybody moved out to the suburbs and the center of the city became hollow. And it’s now coming back super strong and it’s people who are making that happen. So we talked a lot about people, and that strength to be able to keep picking yourself up after you’ve been knocked down, so we thought it’d be fun to do something to honor that.
Shop the collection at Nordstrom (55 E. Grand) or online HERE.