Fashion designer John Varvatos has thrown open the doors to his latest boutique (pictured, below), in the space formerly occupied by the seminal punk club CBGB (above). According to Reuters, and photos of the store’s interior (see the slide show here), Varvatos’ designs play off the vintage punk theme with poster- and graffiti-covered walls, velvet curtains, and a black ceiling, but are geared towards the lucky punk with a trust fund: a leather jacket is $2,500, a pair of vintage boots $400, and jeans up to $285.
Now, not to get all sour-grapey here, but Varvatos’ claim to want to “keep the spirit of CBGB’s alive” by incorporating such details as “special merchandise mix geared to a rock & roll customer… and an in-store performance series featuring up and coming musical artists,” smacks of exploitation of a pretty high order. And, I’ll admit, it’s a little personal for me too: I grew up in the Village, and my high school was a ten-minute walk from CBs. I spent many hours there as a wanna-be punk in the late ’80s, seeing bands like the Toasters, getting flattened by mosh pits and, more than once, nearly getting brained by flying beer bottles. I (illegally) drank said beer and even braved the bathroom. Just for once, I wish that this small yet vital piece of my vanishing city wasn’t being swallowed up by yet another tony enterprise. Then again, New York’s counterculture arts scene hasn’t called SoHo home since the area was taken over by high-end retail shops, so why should the crown jewel of NYC’s squalid punk scene be held to a higher standard?