Design District Taking On Bal Harbour in Battle of the High-End Boutiques

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For years the Bal Harbour Shops have not only reigned as the premier point for designer shopping in Florida, but as one of chicest in the world. But now a new challenger is about to emerge in Miami-Dade. Developer Craig Robins is quickly making his dreams of turning the Design District into a sort of high-end anti-mall a reality, and more than 30 luxury brands are expected to set up shop in the neighborhood.

The battle, as so many fashion fights do, started over Louis Vuitton bags. The French design house had for years a shop in Bal Harbour, but the high-end mall makes all of its tenants sign a contact that guarantees they won't open another location within a 20-mile radius. LV either wanted the exclusivity clause dropped or a bigger space in the mall. The mall wasn't able to accommodate them according to the Wall Street Journal, and now Vuitton is moving to the Design District. And they're bringing some friends along: several other brands owned by the LVMH Moët Hennessy company are heading south.

Here's the list of boutiques that either have opened or plan to open store fronts in the Double D culled from WSJ:

  • Louis Vuitton
  • Christian Dior
  • Fendi
  • Hermes
  • Bulgari
  • Pucci
  • De Beers
  • Celine
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs
  • Cartier
  • Tom Ford
  • Zenga
  • Burberry

They'll be joining existing tenants like Maison Martin Margiela, Y-3, Marni, and Christian Louboutin. That's more fashion brands than an issue of Vogue.

"It brings back the street and neighborhood as a great retail destination," says Robins of the area he describes as an "anti-mall."

Though, Bal Harbour Shops is still doing just fine for itself. It's still home to fashion heavyweights like Chanel, Gucci, Lanvin, Prada, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent. Plus its recently added new stores like Balenciaga and Stella McCartney.

"But, Riptide," you ask, "How will all of these stores survive in such a crappy economy?"

Well, you must be part of the 99%, because the chosen few are still spending like there's no tomorrow. Luxury retail sales are much stronger compared to regular retail sales. That's in part thanks to the new buying power of foreign tourists who come to America, and Miami in particular, to take advantage of a weak dollar.

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