John Varvatos has changed his tune about the “Bowery concept” as his brand moves forward on multiple fronts.
This story first appeared in the September 9, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After the John Varvatos store at 315 Bowery, the former home of the historic club CBGB, opened to great fanfare, the designer said he was resisting pressure to replicate the environment elsewhere, insisting the concept depended on site-specific authenticity — until a second Bowery-concept store opened last week at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Like the original Bowery store, the 3,000-square-foot Las Vegas store carries all three tiers of John Varvatos labels and is infused with historic flavor via flea market finds, rough-hewn materials and music memorabilia. Both stores are outfitted with a stage and specialized equipment for concerts, parties and live broadcasts of Varvatos’ satellite radio show, “Born in Detroit.” One obvious difference between the locations is a wall of video screens in Las Vegas. In addition, the store is the exclusive Nevada dealer of James Trussart guitars.
Bruce Weldyn, director of stores, said the company chose the Hard Rock “because of the entire spirit of this hotel and the music venue.” Like 315 Bowery, where “you can feel the decades of history,” Varvatos wanted to be sure the Vegas store “had the same spirit,” Weldyn said. Regarding future Bowery-concept stores, he said it would depend on the right venue, but none are in the works.
On another front, John Varvatos has revealed the launch of e-commerce. Customers in the U.S. will be able to order goods from all three Varvatos labels, including footwear and fragrances, as of Sept. 15.
On the same date, a winner will be crowned in the brand’s Free the Noise global talent search, which, over the past three months, has been narrowed from 200 entries to four finalists. The four bands will perform on Sept. 15 at 315 Bowery in competition for a contract with Island Records and to be the face of John Varvatos’ contemporary label, Star USA. The four finalists are The Fast Romantics (from Calgary, Canada); Reckless Sons (New York); Howlers (Santiago, Chile), and Scrambled Eggs (Beirut). The judges will be Varvatos, Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Spin editor Doug Brod, Island Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid, photographer Mick Rock and The Bravery’s Sam Endicott.