John Varvatos Store Opens in Downtown Detroit

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Fashion icon John Varvatos, whose clothing store opens today along Woodward Avenue, says he wants his store to be an “igniter” to entice other retailers to come to Detroit and fill the streets.

“It’s an unbelievably exciting day to walk up to the front of a store on Woodward Avenue and see you’re name up on it and feel like you’ve come back to your roots again,” Varvatos says.

Varvatos, who grew up in Allen Park, was on hand Thursday for the media opening, along with Dan Gilbert, the founder of Bedrock Real Estate Services, the company that owns the building (1500 Woodward Ave).

“It’s been a very emotional thing for me to work on this store and work with our friends at Bedrock,” he says. “If it wasn’t for Dan Mullen (vice president of leasing and development for Bedrock Real Estate Services) and Dan Gilbert, we’d be here but I’m not sure we’d be the first ones out of the block.”

The two-level, 4,600-square-foot store was restored to its original design when it was the Schwankovsky Temple of Music at the turn of the 19th century. No renovation cost was provided, though Varvatos did say restoring the building to it’s original design was the most expensive component of the rehab.

The interior is modeled after Varvatos’ store in the Bowery in New York City that was also a music venue. With black walls, a giant chandelier made up of small chandeliers, and guitars intermixed with merchandise, the store has a moody, rock n’ roll feel.  

At his Bowery store, Varvatos hosts free, live music events and Varvatos says he’d like to do the same thing at the Detroit store to “bring music back to downtown Detroit.” 

This marks Varvatos’ 21st store opening, and his first store in the Midwest. The store includes a mix of T-shirts, leather jackets, jeans, and shoes, with prices ranging anywhere from about $100 for a T-shirt to $2,000 for a leather jacket.

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