Fashion designer to open downtown Detroit store – Detroit Free Press
Fashion designer John Varvatos plans to open a store on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit.
The Allen Park native told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning that his namesake menswear chain, John Varvatos, will open a store in the Dan Gilbert-owned building at 1500 Woodward Ave.
In a statement Wednesday,Varvatos says the 4,000-square-foot store will open in the spring.
He says it’s “much more than a business opportunity. It is also about changing the complexion of a great city and creating a different kind of legacy.”
The store’s building dates to 1891 and is known as the Wright-Kay building. It was purchased in 2011 by Bedrock Real Estate Services, the real estate arm of businessman Dan Gilbert.
Gilbert, the billionaire chairman of Quicken Loans who owns or controls several dozen buildings in downtown Detroit, had teased the announcement on Twitter.
Varvatos, who specializes in high-level men’s fashion, said he’s “almost sort of giddy” about the opportunity.
“When I grew up there, Woodward Avenue was the place to be,” he said. “I loved hanging out on Woodward Avenue. So it was a great place to be. You can sense that it is starting to come back.”
Gilbert called Varvatos’ move “a big statement” for Detroit.
Varvatos is already known to metro Detroit for the limited-edition Chrysler 300C named after him.
“I’m back all the time, my family’s still there, so it’s actually one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done since my business (started) in 2000,” he said. “
He said he’s ready to bring “international and national fashion people and designers into downtown Detroit.”
Asked about the financial and demographic reasoning behind the investment, Varvatos said: “You can’t always look at the numbers. You really can’t. Detroit is one of those cities that has been pushed out to the suburbs. There’s this influx of young, affluent people moving to downtown Detroit again. It’s less about the demos you’re looking out than it is your gut.”
In a 2012 interview with the Freep Press, he was asked about Detroit’s impact on his success:
“I try and come back at least two or three times a year, I wish I could come back more. But last time I was there I went to the Magic Bag to listen to music, and still, everywhere I go, I’m people-watching. I love seeing what people are wearing in the street when I’m at Greektown or when I’m at the airport. But there’s definitely a unique Detroit style.
“For me, rock ‘n’ roll was part of my roots growing up. I collected all this rock photography, some of the most amazing photos, and that’s always been a huge influence on me and the way I think about fashion.
“When I was growing up, the scene included the Stooges, Alice Cooper, the MC5. Motown was a big part of it for me, too. I have always looked at rock ‘n’ roll from a fashion point of view. Detroit’s had a big influence on me.”
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