Inside the Thom Browne store in Miami's design district

Bienvenido a Miami. Just in time for Art Basel Miami, Thom Browne is increasing his retail footprint by opening a store in the Design District, an area of the city that has grown into a hub of luxury retail, art galleries and restaurants.

“I’m excited for my store in Miami; the Design District feels right and feels special and unique within the city,” Browne said.

The 3,000-square-foot space, housed in the historic Moore building — originally built in 1921 as a furniture showroom space — is the designer’s third largest brick-and-mortar location globally, behind his New York and Tokyo locations.

In 2018, the brand opened two stores in Japan, in Tokyo and Osaka, and one in South Korea, in Busan, but chief executive officer Rodrigo Bazan said Miami has been in the cards for a while.

“We actually agreed on Miami in August 2016; it was the first store that Thom and I reviewed together. Craig Robins [the developer] really wanted Thom Browne at Design Miami, and we came to see several opportunities and we loved the Moore building space. It was available later, which was great as the complete Design District is open now,” Bazan continued, “Now, looking back, it was a very good decision [because] after developing retail Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, it was the perfect timing in late 2018 to expand in North America.”

The American designer again collaborated with architect Flavio Albanese to design the Miami location, encasing it in floor to ceiling gray ceramic subway tiles, creating a “tile box effect.” Browne said it is meant to be a “play to the appreciation of art to Miami.“

Throughout the store is mid-century furniture by American and French designers, including Pierre Jeanneret, Dunbar by Edward Wormley, Paul McCobb, Jacques Adnet and Maison Jansen.

Unique to the Miami location is a mobile wall installation, comprised of aluminum framed wall panels, featuring Browne’s signature slat blind covered glass. The panels piece together to create intimate spaces for both the men’s and women’s collections. The assortment includes his tailored and sportswear offerings, but offers pieces made with the temperate climate in mind, using seersucker, linen and lightweight fresco fabrics.

A piece from the exclusive range offered at the Thom Browne Miami location.

A dress from the exclusive silk range offered at the Thom Browne Miami location.  E: Ricardo Ventura

To mark the opening, the store will house exclusive eyewear and an assortment of silk printed pieces. The silk range — not available anywhere else but Miami — features a colorful camouflage motif with swimmers and chain link detailing.

The designer, who began his business in a small “by appointment” shop in New York, has had an eventful 2018, with the Ermenegildo Zegna Group buying an 85 percent stake in Thom Browne Inc. in an agreement with Sandbridge Capital, minority shareholder Stripe International and the namesake designer, for an enterprise valuation of about $500 million. Browne remains a shareholder.

Bazan said the brand still operates independently, adding, “Zegna is equally supportive as Sandbridge has been, and we are working very closely with Gildo [Zegna, ceo of the family-owned company] and their teams to understand all the synergies of working with their supply chain and textiles organization. As Gildo has said, where their solutions can be very value added we will happily work with them. If we have already great solutions, we enjoy our independence.”

Bazan pointed out that the business today is around 45 percent direct-to-consumer, with a “very curated wholesale business.” Adding, “We will close 2018 with over 100 percent growth in e-commerce.”

In the first quarter of 2019, Bazan said the strategy is to open concessions at department stores Isetan Women’s and Nagoya Mitsukoshi in January, with two concessions in European capitals later in the first quarter.

While the ceo wouldn’t disclose a specific revenue target for the new U.S. store, he noted, “We also knew that if we succeed in Miami, we could succeed also in several areas of the world with similar weather patterns — parts of Asia, southern Europe. It was a very conscious decision about expanding our range and clients.”