When Christos Garkinos gets a break from taping his new reality show, Dukes of Melrose, you might find him at Coney Dog on Sunset Boulevard ordering two on one, chili only, and a Faygo.
Garkinos is the celebrated co-owner of Decades, the chichi L.A. consignment store that’s become an international shopping destination for celebrities, stylists, and fashionistas.
The sleek boutique serves as the setting for the much-anticipated show, which premiered in March and airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Bravo. Dukes chronicles the adventures of Garkinos and his colorful business partner, Cameron Silver, as they cater to their A-list clientele.
And while he might be rubbing elbows with the Tinseltown glitterati, Garkinos still can’t shake his Detroit roots — hence the cravings for the chili dogs of his youth. “I’m really proud of being from Detroit,” he says. “The music, the architecture, the culture really influence me.”
Garkinos’ parents met at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Detroit, where Garkinos later served as an altar boy for 13 years. His father, who died when Garkinos was young, dreamed of working in the movies, but his broken English shaped his destiny for a different life. He became a meat cutter and later opened the Meat Town Inn in Eastern Market, where Garkinos says he began working at age 4.
“When you’re Greek,” he says, “that’s what you do — you work in the restaurant. It’s family time. I still have … dreams about it.”
Garkinos credits those early years with helping shape the work ethic that’s propelled him to success. “Restaurants and retail are very similar,” he says. “Every day is theater. You never know what’s going to happen. You’re only as good as the last meal you served or the last dress you sold.”
Decades makes for good drama on Dukes of Melrose, as Garkinos lives out his father’s Hollywood dreams, dressing actresses for the red carpet and plundering clients’ closets for high-end finds.
Garkinos, the self-styled Robin Hood of fashion, says there’s a method to his madness: “I consign from the real rich and sell to the less rich.”
At 22, Garkinos earned a business degree from the University of Michigan and moved to California, he says, “on a lark.” After stints as a brand manager for Clorox and head of marketing for Disney Stores in Europe, Garkinos was recruited by Sir Richard Branson and worked his way up to executive vice president of marketing for U.S. Virgin Megastores.
Eventually, he left the corporate world to join Decades full time, helping to expand sales to more than $5 million in 10 years, and to establish a network of 3,000 consigners.
To meet the ever-increasing demand for his designer and vintage finds, Garkinos regularly stages trunk shows and pop-up shops across the country. He hopes to return to Detroit with a trunk show soon, but in the meantime, watch for hometown references sprinkled throughout Dukes of Melrose.
“I talk about Detroit all the time,” he says.