Despite its overabundance of shopping districts, from Lincoln Road in the east to Dadeland Mall in the southwest, South Florida isn’t exactly the best place to shop if you’re a local. We’re a tourist mecca, and quite a bit of our retail sector is directed toward visitors, especially those who can’t find certain desired goods at home. In other words, it might be hard to find a Gucci bag in Caracas, but here, just go to Bal Harbour Shops or Aventura Mall or Sawgrass Mills.
If you’re the type of discerning consumer who likes to live stylishly yet afford your rent, it can be difficult to find decent shopping down here, outside of major mall brands and luxe designer labels. Miami has some major holes in its retail landscape. Here are a few places that would fill them.
Muji. It's sometimes known as Japan’s version of IKEA, but Muji is so much more — yet so much less. The brand, essentially, is that it's not a brand. The company's full name in Japanese, Mujirushi Ryohin, translates to “No Brand Quality Goods,” and that’s exactly what you get when walking into one of these pristine stores: basic, minimally designed products ranging from everyday essentials like food, skincare products, and office supplies to furniture and clothing. Muji makes everything, and it does it at low cost and without garish logos. If you want to live a life of peace and simplicity (and who wouldn’t in this crazy city), this is the place to start.
REI. What makes Recreational Equipment Inc. a unique shopping experience isn’t simply the cleanliness, modern decor, and excellent equipment for camping, climbing, hiking, watersports, and other outdoor activities in its stores. REI is a retail co-op, meaning you pay a $20 membership fee and, in return, receive a dividend and get to vote for its board of directors. Beyond that, it’s just a great place to shop if you want to head outdoors — especially if, like many Miamians, you don’t really mesh well with all the camo and weaponry at Bass Pro Shops.
Uniqlo. Fast fashion gets a bad name for good reasons, but if you must have your clothing at dirt-cheap prices, look to Uniqlo. The Japanese retailer doesn’t chase trends at half the pace of rivals like Zara. Instead, it specializes in making the best-quality clothing possible at the lowest prices possible. That means T-shirts made from high-quality supima cotton and outdoor wear using futuristic fabrics. Basically, Uniqlo clothes won’t fall apart after three washes like those H&M pants you bought.
Topshop/Topman. It’s a bit insane that Miami doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar Topshop. Sure, the celebrated British brand’s products can be found at several Nordstrom stores in the area, but we still don’t have the real deal, unlike dozens of cities around the globe. Topshop's collaboration with Beyoncé on the Ivy Park brand is enough reason for many local fashionistas to clamor for the chain to put down roots here. Thankfully, we might not have to wait long: A Topshop/Topman flagship (along with another Zara) is reportedly included in the upcoming expansion of Aventura Mall.
Opening Ceremony. The luxury market in Miami brims with brands favored by the city's image-obsessed, celeb-adjacent upper crust: Dior in the Design District, Bulgari in Bal Harbour, etc. With all of that haute couture, we’re in need of a shop that’s a bit less snooty. Enter Opening Ceremony, the New York-based boutique founded by two L.A.-raised second-generation Americans who scour the globe for the most enticing, exciting fashions they can find. With stock that runs the gamut from mall-kid standards such as Levi’s and Reebok to cutting-edge labels like Kenzo, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and the store’s own brand, the shop would fit perfectly into the cultural mosaic of Miami.
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World Market. Looking for a housewarming gift or maybe something to liven up your place that isn’t quite as sterile as IKEA? World Market has you covered. Originally a San Francisco-based operation named Cost Plus for its policy of marking items up by only 10 percent from their wholesale cost, the Bed Bath & Beyond-owned brand now specializes in reasonably priced furniture and decor that seems exotic but retains the comfort and familiarity of home. Some fans at New Times have described World Market as a store “for future moms,” which is absolutely a compliment.
Dover Street Market. Walking into Dover Street Market is like entering a museum. In a sense, it’s because you know the pieces on display — including avant-garde labels such as Raf Simons, Balenciaga, and Thom Browne — will one day hang in the closets of collectors and fashion historians. But it’s also because the concept store, which changes its interior design every season with new and exciting displays of art and design, has the feel of a playground for fashion lovers. Founded by Comme des Garçons maven Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street Market succeeds by injecting fun into the elitist field of haute couture. Miami needs one, and because the latest outpost is opening in Singapore, it’s not as if the heat is stopping this place.