The value of luxury: America becomes absolutely fabulous

The US has a taste for European luxury goods, as Francois Henri Pinault tells Laura Chesters, and labels like Mulberry and Burberry are betting their shirts on it

The days of gang wars – Miami Vice style – might be long gone but a battle for the luxury brands has led to a three-way tussle, all competing for the 14 million international and domestic visitors to Miami every year

Developer Craig Robins, with a $1bn project in a run-down part of the city, is challenging established luxury locations in a battle for big spenders.

His Design District, with plans for 60 luxury shops, will compete with the queen of the luxury scene, Bal Harbour – an open-air shopping centre bursting with 100 shops, restaurants and perfectly designed tropical hanging plants and koi carp ponds. The third contender is the Aventura mall – a mega shopping district in the north of the city.

Bal Harbour was opened in 1965 and is still owned by the founder and his family – Stanley Whitman. The centre, which is set to open another 30 shops in an extension by 2019, boasts some of the best names in luxury from Gucci to Chanel and is the world’s most productive centre based on sales per square foot of around $3000.

But Mr Robins, who made his fortune redeveloping Art Deco hotels in South Beach, is trying to steal Bal Harbour’s crown.

Mr Robins started buying up properties in the run-down midtown neighbourhood in 1994 and claims to have invested close to £1bn on the project with help from lending banks and an investment from partners such as L Real Estate, a fund in which LVMH is a minority investor.

So far this has paid off as he boasts agreements with Burberry, Hermes and Prada as well as 15 of LVMH's brands and 12 of Swiss group Richemont’s brands.

Gucci-owner Kering is in talks to open some of its brands in the final phase of the scheme. The Design District will open in three phases and should be complete by 2016.

Mr Robins claims Bal Harbour has been too stubborn when dealing with brands. Part of Bal Harbours' success was a clause it made tenants sign up to. Brands opening in Bal Harbour couldn't open stores within a 20 mile radius. For years Bal Harbour had a monopoly.

Bernard Arnault But a deal with Bernard Arnault's LVMH group in 2011 changed everything. LVMH's flagship Louis Vuitton brand decided to quit its store in Bal Harbour when the lease was up and opened in the Design District and Aventura.

This was the impetus for other brands to follow. Louis Vuitton still has a presence in Bal - it has a shop in shop space at department store Saks Fifth Avenue at the centre. But its decision means other luxury names are breaking free of Bal for Aventura too.

Matthew Whitman Lazenby, president and chief executive of Whitman Family Development, says his shoppers love its safe and secure environment and gross sales are up 10% in the past two years.

While the Design District is still situated in a largely unproven area and security is tight at the shops that have opened so far - late night shopping is deemed too risky amid concerns about the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Adding to the mix of luxury shopping developments is a $1.5bn development in downtown Miami which will include 520,000 square feet of shops and restaurants by Swire Properties, Whitman and Simon Properties which will go head to head with Forbes and Taubman and Centers' Miami Worldcenter in Brickell.

But Miami is a hotspot for tourists from across the US as well as South America – particularly Brazil and Colombia. If the tourists keep coming, there could be room for all three.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore