John Varvatos likes the UK, a lot, and his familiarity and appreciation of the country is most apparent via his musical obsessions: Ringo Starr is the latest musician to front the brand’s ad campaign (here), while collections owe their primary aesthetic to threads worn by the likes of Mick Jagger and David Bowie, et al.
The fact that he focuses on tailoring – the bread, butter and livelihood of a prolific London street – surely cements his fanboy status; and now he’s about to open up shop, right on the doorstep of Savile Row.
“It’s actually my favourite city to travel to,” he tells Clash, “it has so much heritage and history, but also it’s a bit of a centre of the universe today. I mean, I live in New York City so we always think that we are, but when you really think about the convergence of everything from the Far East, China, down from the Far East to the Middle East, to Russia and Europe…”
The 10,000 square foot space that opens on Conduit Street next month – the debut flagship outside of the States, at three floors the biggest in the world – will no doubt be the cause of further transatlantic travel, and as Varvatos advises, it’s been a long time coming.
“We’ve been looking for the right location; we have a very strong client base in the UK already, and we love the culture and the rock’n’roll sensibility.”
The store will stock both catwalk looks as well as more commercial picks – like the casual polo shirt Max is wearing above – plus a selection of in-store specials (vinyl!), a further nod to the designer’s musical focus.
Later he reels off a list of gigs witnessed in the city, amongst them Pearl Jam and Neil Young at Hyde Park, Oasis “playing some place in Camden”, and confirms plans to hold gigs in-store, the practice of which is already a major draw in New York, where the brand is housed at the former CBGB’s address.
“I think there’s a little bit more of a sophistication in London,” he concludes, “in terms of culture and people, it’s very cosmopolitan.”
John, we’ll take it.
John Varvatos London opens 3rd September.
Words & fashion : Zoe Whitfield
Photography: Hill & Aubrey
Model: Max Legemah @ Models 1