John Varvatos (formerly CBGB)
Today, it is home to designer jeans, but John Varvatos’s eponymous store on the Bowery is the former site of the famed venue CBGB, which originally housed punks in much more tattered stylings. Closed in 2006, CBGB was known as a home base for bands such as Blondie, Talking Heads, and the Ramones. Richard Hell, an early member of the band Television who departed to perform under his name, is credited with this sartorial trend. He often sported a ripped T-shirt with safety pins precariously holding the stitching together. Aside from his contribution to the world of clothing, however, he is known for – along with friends Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine – bridging the gap between poetry and punk. “Writing and reading is probably my main occupation, but I felt too isolated; I wanted more physical satisfaction. So, out of frustration with feeling doomed to irrelevance, we decided we were gonna make a band,” Hell told the Poetry Foundation. Varvatos has preserved the stage where Smith and Hell read verses, and tattered posters touting the CBGB bands adorn the wall.