By  on February 28, 2008

America has a new Iberian import — Adolfo Dominguez.

The publicly owned Spanish megabrand opened its first U.S. store in November in a 6,000-square-foot space next to Nordstrom at the Village of Merrick Park, a lifestyle center in Coral Gables, Fla., which attracts foreign brands testing the domestic waters.

Colombia's Silvia Tcherassi and France's Victoria Casal opened stores at Merrick Park in 2003 and 2007, respectively, and Chile's Mosso is to launch in May. Blumarine opened its first U.S. store at Merrick Park in December and Carlos Miele will unveil his second U.S. unit in March.

Dominguez, president of the company that bears his name, chose the location because it attracts Latin American customers, as well as for its peaceful garden setting. He said the store should do more than $2 million in first-year sales.

"Shopping should be the opposite of work," said Dominguez, who is the force behind 450 company-owned boutiques or franchises selling women's, men's and children's wear, accessories, shoes, fragrance and home furnishings.

Dominguez plans a rollout of 40 shops in Mexico and South America during the next two years. U.S. expansion won't necessarily follow Hispanic population patterns, and Dominguez said he intends to concentrate on markets like New York and Los Angeles, and possibly Chicago and Las Vegas.

Initially unable to find the right location at the Village at Merrick Park, the company opened U, a men's and women's casualwear offshoot, in a 3,000-square-foot space on the second level in 2004. Customers buy corduroy capris, printed T-shirts and a best-selling, rose-scented eau de toilette.

The decor at the new Adolfo Dominguez store includes wood slat walls, wide-plank floors and gold accented signage and light pendants. The company's furniture, wood-framed sofas upholstered in cocoa silk shantung and sculptural floor lamps with soft, nubby shades, is on display but is not for sale as it is in Europe, where stores are three to four times bigger.

Collections are delivered 15 to 20 times annually. Women's accounts for about 65 percent of the offering.

Along with three factories in Spain, Dominguez sources materials such as exclusive prints and textured and treated fabrics from Peru, China and Thailand.

To illustrate the craftsmanship, Dominguez showed a ruched strapless gown, its violet hue subdued with a dotted mesh overlay, retailing for $644, and a belted, floor-length halter in a pleated, shimmery black poly blend for $839. Other seasonal pieces are a cropped motorcycle jacket in purple leather for $507, cuffed trousers in gray stretch rayon for $174 and a wrap dress in a black-and-white abstract print with black collar, cuffs and belt for $468.

Dominguez hopes to grow his handbag and shoe business, which accounts for one-third of sales. Products include a brown tote in crocodile-embossed buffalo leather for $448, caramel-colored boots with hefty ankle buckles, $409, and pointy, stiletto sandals with cabochons and a spray of netting, $213.

The company has also jumped on the large-size market. Launched three years ago, Adolfo Dominguez Plus shares some fabrics and prints with the main line, but silhouettes are more fluid. The designer is planning to devote a 2,000-square-foot store to the concept upstairs at Merrick Park in 2008, followed by units throughout the U.S.

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