Resting on the Miami River, the facility will house a design studio, production, a school, Khan’s new foundation and cultural center for art-meets-fashion type parleys. In talks with the Design and Architecture High School in Miami, Khan said his team would be the auxiliary arm to support the school with technicians and artisans that work within the industry. With one acre of land, the designer plans to build a school on one side of the property and his production facilities on the other. “I thought, ‘So how cool will it be to practically teach high school students and have them see everything we do from how we create the prints, do the embroideries, put on a fashion show.”
Khan first came upon Dade County about four years ago when he started practicing polo there.
Some production in Europe and Asia will be uprooted so that all bridal and high-end signature styles will be made in the U.S., as well as 100 jobs. Indirectly, Naeem Khan employs 600 people worldwide and the collection is sold in 225 stores. Expecting to be in Miami 80 percent of the time, Khan said he will continue to show in New York though he is exploring the idea of showing in Europe.
Financed through his own investment with some bank financing, Khan said, “It’s all us basically so I’m liable for that.”
The designer launched his namesake label in 2003.
Once the new headquarters open, resortwear and other “less expensive” styles for tropical getaways will be rolled out for a global launch, Khan said. Couture shoppers will be accommodated in Florida but a store will not be unveiled. The entire project is slated to bow in 2019 and will employ about 110 people.
Arquitectonica will design the exterior of the building to be reminiscent of how Khan designs his fabrics. Friendly with the late Zaha Hadid, Khan said her London-based team was in-the-running but he decided on a Miami one instead. The firm’s principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia is also a friend. The building’s exterior will be designed to be reminiscent of sequins and beads. “The whole idea started with having cubes on the river. It was originally going to be one just simple box on the river that was going to be my building surrounded with gardens. Then I thought, ‘How can I give back to the community because I just feel that America has been so incredible to me.’”
Originally from India, Khan said he started his company “from literally nothing” and wanted to show his appreciation for the U.S. which has given him a home and the support of former first lady Michelle Obama. The third generation in his family to work in fashion, the designer aims to also preserve the dying art of embroidery. “This school is to teach the kids how to make couture, design your own fabric, beading and embroidery.” he said.
While the flooring will be shipped from India, designing other elements of the building there proved too complicated logistically. Khan said all the design work is being done in New York on his computers similar to how he designs his collection. “I just wanted this building to have a soul of where I come from and who I am,” Khan said.
With 300 feet of riverfront property, the location could be used for a fashion show on the deck of a yacht, Khan said. In addition, the plazas and grounds will be developed with the prospect of outdoor fashion shows for up to 1,000 people in mind. “Really for me what’s most important is bringing jobs back to this country and that’s where I really want to concentrate,” he said.