By  on January 31, 1994

MIAMI BEACH -- The South Beach retail explosion has so far been confined to trendy local boutiques along Washington Avenue. But the transformation of the old Financial Federal Building into a 20,000-square-foot shopping complex in the heart of the Art Deco district has brought in high-profile stores like Versace Jeans and A.B.S. Here, WWD profiles three distinctive women's boutiques.

VERSACE JEANS COUTURE: Opened Dec. 30.

Headquarters for the South Florida franchise: Miami.

Other Locations: Versace Couture, Versus, both in Bal Harbour Shops, Miami.

Size: 3,000 square feet.

Projected volume: $1.5 million, according to industry sources.

Price Range: $50 for a T-shirt to $900 for a leather suit.

Inventory Mix: Versace Jeans Couture, a women's and men's collection introduced a year ago, consists primarily of basic and printed denim -- jeans, shorts, bodysuits, and accessories like baseball caps and handbags.

The store also carries Versace Sport, a new line of activewear, with shorts and T-shirts, and housewares and gift items, including porcelain pieces, bath towels and beach towels, sheets, comforters and throw rugs.

Target Customer: Mainly tourists, plus the local beach crowd.

Bestsellers: During the first week, basic black jeans, at $140, sold 30 units. A "Rock and Royalty" black, red and white printed denim vest, at $220, sold 15 pieces.

Interior Design: Inspired by an Italian villa garden, with gold and terra-cotta walls; stone flooring with insets of river rocks in earth tones.

Center skylight atrium is surrounded by loggias with vaulted ceilings. Displays and hanging systems are black iron with gold detail. Greenery includes tall topiary designs and plants on mantels.

Owner Melissa Sardinia comments: "Our customer is a real mix of local beach people plus tourists from everywhere. The clothing is young, fun and casual, as represented by whimsical print motifs, such as the New York skyline and the Beatles."

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