Willy Chavarria Lands at Maxfield L.A.

New York designer Willy Chavarria rolled up to Maxfield L.A. in style Thursday afternoon, in a red lowrider convertible.

He was the guest of honor at a party to celebrate the arrival of his collection at the store — and in the front windows on Melrose Avenue — with cocktails and ranchero hats for shoppers and fans eager to meet him, including El Creativo floral designer Juan Renteria, who came bearing roses.

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“I remember coming to this store and being so blown away and like a total child in this industry, jaw on the floor like I was in heaven dreaming of a day I’d have clothes selling in this store,” said Chavarria, who first visited in 2001 on a corporate shopping trip while he was working for Ralph Lauren.

Front and center in the boutique was Chavarria’s spring runway collection, including his broad-shoulder tailoring, mudflap trousers, track suits, basketball shorts, USA T-shirts and a special Willy for Maxfield T-shirt design.

“Right now, I’m just starting to go into wholesale. I was doing wholesale in Asia with some different partners but I’ve taken it back and now have a close eye on the distribution. For the first few seasons I want to have the best stores,” Chavarria said of landing in Maxfield, and the front windows at that.

“This is like a dream, I can’t believe it’s happening,” he continued. “There’s a huge California influence in my work. I have a strong L.A. customer base through my online business, and through the aesthetic which has a big connection with L.A. But I haven’t had any real positioning here. I have sold to Dover Street Market in the past and will again, but I needed a relaunch and this was definitely the store for that.”

He’s also gotten lots of celebrity love from L.A., particularly from women, from Billie Eilish wearing his jacket and shorts to the Golden Globes to Tracee Elllis Ross modeling his tan-colored wide-collar shirt and trousers from the fall 2024 runway on her Instagram a few days ago.

“It’s really been 100 precent organic,” he said of receiving a text from Ross, who he hasn’t met in person yet. “I’m very happy I wasn’t a brand that started by trying to get my clothing on people. It took a little while, but I was able to show brand integrity and consistency that started to be noticed and that worked to my advantage.”

The designer was going to be in and out of L.A. in less than 48 hours, managing to fit in visits to his factories and fabric mills downtown and in El Monte but not much else in addition to the Maxfield rollout.

“You land in California and the sun…it’s so beautiful…I definitely see myself living here. My family is up north in the Santa Maria area. I want to be closer to them,” he said, also expressing interest in the kind of Hollywood commercial and branding opportunities that might come his way as a designer.

“I need that because my collaborations now are basically me and my publicists at Purple PR picking up the phone or getting a call,” he said. “I definitely want to do a Willy’s Jeep. I love Jeeps. I’ve got to!”

In 2023, Chavarria scooped up the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award, the Designer of the Year Award at the Latin American Awards, and left his role as senior vice president of design at Calvin Klein to focus solely on his own nine-year-old business, which is inching into womenswear.

He is working on his next collection to show in New York in September, and preparing the brand to expand in Europe. “There is a part of it that’s very attractive, the more streetwear element, but telling the story I need to do a bit more there,” he said of the European expansion. “I need to educate the customer, because they don”t know Chicano culture as well. Hopefully, I’ll be the first.”

Launch Gallery: Inside the Willy Chavarria X Maxfield New Life Event

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