Detroit has been dubbed a city of rock and roll time and time again with legends such as The Stooges, Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band all the way to the White Stripes, there is evidence in that idiom. Rock and roll culture has a certain chic to it involving things like ratty t-shirts, studded leather jackets, tight jeans and skull rings, it is a style that is all its own. John Varvatos, a contemporary menswear designer and former Allen Park resident, has brought his awesome rock music-inspired men’s fashion boutique back to his homeland, “Detroit Rock City.”
Located in the new and improved fashion district of downtown, the John Varvatos boutique sits in the immaculately renovated Wright-Kay Building, formerly known as the Schwankovsky Temple of Music, on the corner of Woodward and John R. Walking up to the storefront, shoppers are greeted with beautiful black columns and a Statue of Liberty decked out in Alice Cooper eye makeup. Then when shoppers enter the building, a massive, black and sparkling chandelier greets shoppers as they take in the pure rock and roll genius that surrounds them.
As shoppers wander around the “rock and roll wonderland,” rock gods such as Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and Iggy Pop, just to name a few, adorn the walls that are jam packed with some of the most elegant rock photography to exist. Guitars, record players, and amps are littered throughout the store, almost giving it a museum-like vibe, and there is even a little record store on the mezzanine level. Shoppers almost think they might be in the rock and roll hall of fame, then shoppers realize they are surrounded by high-end men’s fashion.
John Varvatos’ fashion resume is top notch, he started out at Ralph Lauren and then moved to Calvin Klein in the early 90s. It was here that he took over the menswear department and helped create the men’s collection. He’s even credited for helping create the boxer brief, you’re welcome dudes! He decided to take his love for rock and start his own company, opening his first store in New York in late 1999. The Detroit store is his twenty-first store and he holds it dear to is heart because he is home.
Detroit’s downtown is booming! Thanks to investors of all kinds for restoring many of these beautiful skeleton structures into the pieces of art they deserve to be, and the John Varvatos store is a prime example of these efforts. Dan Gilbert’s team turned the Wright-Kay into a masterpiece, and as these previously abandoned buildings slowly get remolded into this and that, it’s great to see fashion moguls such as John Varvatos returning home.