NEW YORK — John Varvatos last week confirmed that he plans to open a boutique at the former site of the seminal East Village music club CBGB.
Among the ideas under consideration is a special merchandise mix geared to a rock & roll customer, including a new, store-exclusive collection, from which a portion of the proceeds would benefit an artist development fund.
“It’s my baby and I’m going to have my hand on it every step of the way,” said the 52-year-old designer, who is renowned for his love of music and his brand’s alliance with the rock scene through ad campaigns and event sponsorships. He guessed that he had attended over 100 shows at the club over the years.
“I’ve been a huge music nut since I was a young kid, and when I came to New York I spent a lot of time at CBGB. I was saddened, like a lot of people, when it closed,” Varvatos said. He came into the space almost by happenstance, when he was next door for an entirely separate purpose, he said. Once inside, he was inspired to keep the club’s spirit alive.
CBGB OMFUG (Country, Blue Grass and Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers) was founded in 1973 and, despite its namesake musical styles, became a forum for rock and punk bands including Blondie, Talking Heads, The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, The Ramones and Green Day. It closed in October 2006.
“I thought we should do something to honor what it was, instead of seeing it turn into a deli or a bank or whatever,” Varvatos said. “There will be very much a history of music in that space.” However, the store will not feature the CBGB name on any signage or merchandise. “We have no rights to that name and no intention to use it in any way,” Varvatos said, adding that it would be identifiable in other ways.
Like in the old bathrooms that were infamous for dense graffiti, foul odors and illicit behavior? No. “The bathrooms are something that will just stay in all of our memory,” he said.
The boutique will occupy 3,300 square feet of the original club space—but not the entire building—at 315 Bowery, on the former Skid Row that is now home to a chic hotel and a Whole Foods Market.
“I don’t think the Bowery is going to become a mall,” he said. “I want to see the area still have a cool vibe.” The leaseholder and Varvatos are on the hunt for a co-tenant that would share their sensibilities. Of the lease terms, Varvatos would only say that “it’s a long-term lease.” The design process is starting this month, with construction beginning in December, and the opening slated for March.
“There’s definitely going to be a feeling that you’ve been there before,” the designer said.
The store will likely feature a permanent stage, which will be home to a new-artist performance series.
The assortment will include products from all collections—including John Varvatos, Star USA and Converse by John Varvatos—but chosen selectively. “You definitely won’t find a pink linen shirt in this store. All of the items in this store will have a decidedly rock & roll edge to them,” he said.
Questioned about revenue targets for the store, Varvatos replied, “Honestly, my goal is to make the rent payment. It’s not about making this a monster business. It’s about creating something for our brand that we’re really proud of ... and that speaks to our brand and what we’re about.”
Currently the designer has five boutiques—West Hollywood and Costa Mesa, Calif., Las Vegas and East Hampton and Soho in New York. A San Francisco store is in the works for next fall.
By no means does the Bowery store signal a fading commitment to Soho, Varvatos stressed. The Soho store is significantly larger, with 5,500 square feet, and Varvatos intends to keep it for “easily” 10 more years, he said. “If you’ve ever been there on a weekend you know that store is rockin’. We plan on being a foothold in Soho for a long time.”
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion