Willy Chavarria is the most powerful Latin voice in American fashion


“I was in the business for so long before I went out on my own that the goal wasn’t so much to see how much volume you could sell, but how much beauty you could create,” said Mr. Chavarria, whose days by Joe Boxer were driven by sales targets far more than by design. “That was how many banana print boxers should we sell.”

That he intended, on his own label and at Calvin Klein, to build something culturally restorative, you could tell from the responses of the hopefuls who presented themselves to the cast: construction workers and musicians and newcomers scouts, few of whom considered themselves beautiful, let alone marketable within the narrow sphere of fashion, as it turned out.

They were men like Elias Priddie, 24, a soulful-looking day laborer and sometimes bare-knuckle boxer from the Bronx, who “never even thought I could be good looking,” as he explained. . They were men like Chachi Martinez, 28, one of Mr. Chavarria’s designated muses, “a total love, although he looks a little scary”, as the creator put it, in because of Mr. Martinez’s many SoCal gang-style tattoos.

Or it was lanky guys like Antonio Macek, 20, a long-haired former amateur hurdler of black and Czech ancestry who grew up being called too handsome or just plain ugly or told that he was weird. “I was seen as different because I didn’t look like a normal person,” Mr Macek said.

“There are so many ways in this world where we are kept, or prevented, from being beautiful,” said Mr. Chavarria, who has kept a SoHo apartment as much as anything for its easy access to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, one of the last strongholds in a rapidly homogenizing city of racial and gender diversity.


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