The Quiet Triumph of Willy Chavarria
From Joe Boxer to Yeezy Gap, meet the first-generation American designer altering the course of style.
Willy Chavarria might not be a household name but his work certainly is. A first-generation American raised in Fresno, California by a father with Sinaloan roots and a mother of Irish descent, Chavarria’s upbringing was far removed from the lavish glamour sweeping U.S. and European fashion capitals in the ’80s. Decades later, this detachment from the mainstream during his formative years is what makes his designs so powerful.
Currently a Senior Vice President of Design at Calvin Klein, Chavarria’s first brush with fashion occurred in his early 20s while studying graphic design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Here, he took a part-time job for Joe Boxer's shipping department, staying late after each shift to work on sketches. His ideas eventually earned Chavarria his first design role. Next came Voler, a California-based cycling apparel company. Ralph Lauren partnered with Voler to work on its own athletic line, RLX, and soon Chavarria was off to New York City, designing for the American institution’s most prestigious brands, including Polo Sport, RRL, Purple Label and Black Label.
A nearly 10-year stint with American Eagle followed before Dickies recruited Chavarria to help launch Construct, a premium label coinciding with culture’s surging interest in elevated workwear. In 2015, Chavarria debuted his eponymous brand, parlaying personal and professional experiences into a signature aesthetic. Oversized white T-shirts. Pressed khakis. Black belts. “One of the most elegant fashion statements of all time,” as Chavarria puts it.