Corporate Rock?




Varvatos on Bowery

Hanging out this morning reading the daily news, I came across an article in the L.A. Times on John Varvatos.  It was about his upcoming runway show in Milan and hopes for the line going global, etc.  Going through the article, it rattled off some of his accomplishments over the last 9-10 yrs-  his great rock-flavored menswear, inventing the laceless Chuck Taylor, turning CBGB into a clothing boutique… stop right there.

Now, let me make my feelings on John Varvatos clear- he’s a very talented designer whose impact on men’s fashion is significant and can be felt all the way back to his days at Ralph and Calvin.  This is not a slam on Varvatos.  

What bothered me was that CBGB, the iconic Punk venue (read: anti-corporate) becoming a boutique that sells clothes that are out of reach for most prior hardcore patrons was somehow considered good.  I don’t know about you, but the fact that CBGB closed in the first place is still troubling.  Add the fact that a retail store now trades on CBGB’s legacy makes me feel kinda funny, even now.  Maybe I’m looking at it all wrong and it shouldn’t bother me.  

Looking back now, it’s very clear that CBGB was going to close.  The landlord jacked the rent, no one was stepping up to bail them out, and the place was physically falling apart.  The jig was up, it was over.  So now it’s a store.  The bright side- some of CBGB’s history has been preserved,  great bands perform there live- the music legacy lives on.  Most importantly, at least it’s not a Starbucks, right?  So in that respect I have to give Varvatos a lot of credit for paying homage to the history and importance that CBGB played in music, culture, and NYC.  Thanks for that.

Pictures of the demo and new store  –





3 thoughts on “Corporate Rock?

  1. Read the same article though I think the store has been open for quite some time. I have mixed feelings about Varvatos and men’s luxury goods in general. I don’t see the quality for the price that I used to 10-15 years ago. My wife and I were in American Rag last night and I saw a John Varvatos shirt for $245. The quality of the stitching, buttons, and even the fabric just didn’t feel like it justified the price.

    As for CBGB turning into a new Varvatos store–they were both selling something, be it music or clothes. If people stopped going to CBGBs and just expected the place to stay open, they were fooling themselves. If you really like a business, support it by going there.

  2. CBGB hadn’t been relevant or important for over twenty years when the building finally shut down.
    Now that its gone they still do just fine hawking merchandise, if anything, they do better, since they don’t have to waste any of their tshirt revenue on rent.

    Varvatos may be using a historical music venue as a gimmick to promote his clothing, but at least he’s being straightforward about it.

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