bal harbour blog

John Varvatos Opens at Bal Harbour

Q&A
John Varvatos Bal Harbour.

Last week John Varvatos opened a new store at Bal Harbour Shops. The 3,000-square-foot store has a strong focus on tailored clothing, footwear, accessories, jewelry and the limited edition watch collection in collaboration with Ernst Benz. We caught up with the charismatic designer behind the eponymous brand to discuss design, fashion and of course, music.

How does the new Bal Harbour store compare with your other location on Lincoln Road?
They're very different. Concept-wise, this is a luxury, elegant store. It's very much like our new store on Madison Avenue. It has a lot of the same DNA of that store: We only carry the collections there, not any of the secondary lines. You'll find a lot of tailored pieces, as well as luxury products. It's also a lot larger—about twice the size.

Do you work with the same designers for each store?
We do it ourselves in-house, so we have myself and another person on the team. I don’t like our stores to feel like stores, we have to show our clothes, and there has to be racks and things to show, but I love the stores to feel like a cross between a cultural experience and residential as well.

john varvatos bal harbour store interior

What are some of the key elements of the interior design?
The store has a number of really interesting features. The ceiling is made up of thousands of round, concave mirrors with bronze frames—also relevant to something we just did on Madison. It's spectacular. There’s beautiful mid-century lighting in the store, and a lot of vintage pieces that I hand-selected from around the world.

john varvatos bal harbour interior decoration

Does it remind you of a particular place or period?
You know, it's a little bit more residential looking than any of our other stores. Honestly, it was based off my Upper East Side New York apartment—both the Madison store and this one—which is really soft in terms of color. One of my favorite elements is the room divider towards the back of the store that almost has like a driftwood finish.It divides our tailored clothing room from the sportswear area.

Are you a collector of design and furniture?
I am. In all of the stores I really am the point person who kind of collects all the pieces, whether we’re refurbishing or they’re just beautiful vintage piece. There are a lot of collectible pieces throughout the store, like an Italian 1970s jewelry cabinet, that’s in the center of the store.

Are any of the pieces custom?
We are manufacturing some pieces. There’s a beautiful leather couch in the Bal Harbour store that we designed specifically for the space.

Would furniture be something you would consider developing as a new extension of the brand?
At some point in time we definitely want to. We’ve been in discussions about that for a while, but we definitely want to do furniture and lighting at some point. Furniture is definitely something that will happen in the next few years with our brand.

Is there any art for sale?
We have beautiful black and white photography that we do in cooperation with a group called Rock Paper Photo, it's really beautiful music photography. Some of the photos are exclusively available at Bal Harbour.

Will the art rotate?
We'll have gallery shows that will change every 60 days or so. We think that's important for the locals especially who return to the shops often. That’s something we’ve been doing for a number of years in our other stores, which helps to make it more of a social space as well.

john varvatos spring 2014 suit

Music is such a huge part of the brand, and must be a big passion for you too.
I have a radio show on Sirius XM that I’ve been doing for a lot of years, and I just started a record label. I’m now looking for artists that make a lot of sense to sign to the label and nurture and that kind of thing.

Do you have anyone signed yet?
I don't, but I’m in discussions with a couple really interesting artists—both young artist as well as some established artists that are very relevant. I'm really intrigued by young artists because I don’t think there’s enough attention given to them unless they have a number one pop single right now.

Do you play any instruments?
I play a little bit of guitar, I’m not a good guitar player though, I usually don’t even talk about it because I feel like the people that I associate with are great musicians. Once in a while someone invites me up on stage to play with them and that’s kind of a fun moment, but it has to be loud or I don’t want to do it because then someone may really hear me!

What should we look for in store now?
The store will open with the Spring collection and then Pre-Fall will be in at the end of May. That's really a beautiful transitional product for us. We have special pieces that will only be available at Bal Harbour, and we'll continue to develop pieces like that. We want to be very attentive to not only exclusive pieces but pieces that are really appropriate for the climate and the region. We want to be really dialed in to making sure we’re covering the needs of the local community.

Varvatos' passion for music is an integral part of the brand. Recently Varvatos invited a select audience to the Bowery store in New York City for a surprise concert. To mark this very special event—which ended up being an intimate performance by KISS—Varvatos hired director Danny Clinch to film the piece for a documentary short, seen here:

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