Shop Till You Drop In Miami: From Top Designer Boutiques To Vintage Collectibles
In recent years Greater Miami and the Beaches has become one of the most fashion-forward destinations in the world, flaunting a red-hot shopping scene that’s a regular stop on every fashionista’s circuit.
Miami’s shopping scene has changed dramatically from the days when a bag of grapefruit and a Greetings from Miami Beach snow globe were typical tourist purchases. Today Miami offers a treasure of trendsetting items, from unique fashions to cutting-edge home décor, and great values on a variety of items. The darling of fashion editors, Miami draws serious shoppers from around the world who come to check out designer showrooms displaying the latest styles and innovations, and visit funky boutiques boasting homegrown talent. Heralded as one of the last great cities for vintage designer clothing by “Sex and the City” costume designer Patricia Field, Miami boasts a great collection of vintage clothing boutiques. Those who like their furniture aged will love hidden gems like the Lincoln Road Antiques and Collectibles Market and Homestead’s Main Street Antique District, home to a plethora of quaint shops and cafés.
Lucky Magazine, the glossy that serves as the bible to those who view shopping as a calling, labels South Beach “a great shopping option with the same kinds of stores you find in New York or Los Angeles.” In 2012 the magazine named Miami #4 on the “25 Best Cities for Shopping” list, calling it a “playful city that’s very serious about fashion.” So no matter what item you’re after, Miami offers something for everyone, from shopaholics to casual browsers.
One of the coolest places to shop in town is Lincoln Road, a lushly landscaped tropical promenade originally designed by Miami architect legend Morris Lapidus. Once the “Fifth Avenue of the South,” the stomping ground of jewelry-laden matrons in the 1950s and 60s, Lincoln Road today draws a more diverse crowd. Insiders come to “The Road” for its eclectic mix of national retail chains and funky boutiques showcasing local designers, jewelry and other one-of-a-kind items – including hotter than hot brands such as Diesel, Lucky Brand Jeans, Steve Madden and Kiehl’s.
It’s also one of the best spots in town to grab a meal or cocktail at an al fresco café and watch the endless parade of people. From European and South American travelers and locals strutting with their dogs to Midwesterners looking to soak in some glamour on their business trip, it’s always a fascinating show.
One of the stores gaining national attention is Alchemist, selling high-end labels such as Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens and Balenciaga — all displayed in a stunning museum-style setting. Another store on fashion fans’ lists is the Fly Boutique, offering distinctive and hard-to-find designer vintage clothing and shoes. European retail store Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) recently opened, offering the latest fashions at great prices for the whole family. All Saints Spitalfields offers vintage workwear, packed with shrunken leather jackets and charcoal-hued strapless dresses. Tuccia di Capri sells many different spins on the iconic bare sandal indigenous to the island of Capri. Dog lovers with style love The Dog Bar, which offers an astonishing array of accessories and tasty treats for pampered puppies. Other favorites include Brownes & Co, a day spa and beauty emporium that is a favorite of fashion editors, models and celebrities for hard-to-find beauty lines and beyond-bliss pedicures. The independent Books & Books specializes in art, design, fashion and architecture books but also offers bestsellers for those craving a beach read. They feature a large magazine collection from local to international publications, which many people purchase and enjoy at the stores renowned café. BASE’s flagship store features cool internationally designed, locally created fashions and the hottest world dance and house music. Savvy bargain hunters and collectors head to the Antiques and Collectibles Market on alternating Sundays, offering memorabilia and collectibles from the 1900s to 1960s.
The most famous street in South Beach is Ocean Drive, known as the “Capital of Cool” with a fashion shoot around every corner. The street, which looks like a runway bursting with models, sports boutiques with funky, youthful fashions and unique accessories. Ocean Drive is a must-see but shoppers in the know head to Collins Avenue Fashion District — a dazzling collection of hip designer stores spread between 5th and 9th streets – for sophisticated finds. Big-name designers like Armani, Versace, Nicole Miller, Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole have all set up shop here, playing up South Beach’s hip vibe with their super chic décors and A-list service. Housed in an Art Deco mansion, Webster Miami offers not just clothes—from designers like Proenza Schouler, Balenciaga, Repossi, Alexander Wang and dozens more—but also a ground-floor cocktail lounge, a rooftop bar and wonderfully random accessories. Other favorites include Urban Outfitters, MAC, Nine West, GAP and Benetton, and for music fans the independent Uncle Sam’s Music is an oasis, offering an impressive list of recordings and groovy gift items.
The Mondrian South Beach was recently featured on national U.S. morning show “Today” for their incredibly cool ‘Semi-Automatic’ vending machine, now under the curation BASE 24/7, one of the coolest lifestyle concepts in the U.S. Trendy travelers can choose from a fascinating mix of must-owns from global designers such as Miansai, Nixon, Flight 001, Hues, Urbanears and BASE. Items can be anything from vintage luggage tags and limited edition watches to micro PLAYBUTTON MP3 players.
Miami’s “sisterhood” with New York is evident in its cutting edge urban evolution in the Design District. With a synergistic blend of art, architecture and design, the district is a compelling 18 blocks of interior design showrooms, home furnishings and furniture studios that are open to the public. Top names like HollyHunt, Knoll, Tui Lifestyles and Waterworks are all strolling distance from one another, while hip restaurants and art galleries have sprung up on every block.Turchin Love & Light Jewelry sells a line of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that have adorned celebrities ranging from Beyonce to David Caruso. The neighborhood is redefining how fashion is merchandised, with new fashion icon brands recently opened or soon to come, such as Cartier, Tom Ford, Zegna, Burberry Christian Dior, Fendi, Bulgari, Pucci, De Beers, Celine and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Tomas Maier—who’s also creative director of Bottega Veneta—is creating a buzz with inspiring goods, including tribal jewelry, coffee-table books, and his own line of sexy swimsuits. On the District is the exclusive retailer for famed U.K. brand Cutler & Gross as well as the handmade-in-Paris specs from Thierry Lasry. En Avance stocks innovative European items, like By Malene Birger tops, Camilla Skovgaard sandals and suede flats from Italian shoemaker Anna Baiguera. Based in the district is the mobile pop up store La Nómada, a gleaming Airstream trailer stocked some of the city’s best young fashion talent. Nearby, Midtown Miami offers sidewalks filled with trendy boutiques, cafes, lounges, restaurants, and more. Shoppers can enjoy special installations and exhibits adorning the streets.
Just north is Rebel Miami, promoted in fashion magazines as offering the best of the boutique and consignment worlds, with big names like Elizabeth and James, Young Fabulous & Broke, and Wink. Further north vintage fans flock to C. Madeleine’s, a 10,000-square-foot store that is considered one of the best vintage collections in the U.S., from Edwardian slips and Thierry Mugler power suits to pristine-condition design pieces and one boutique dedicated entirely to Chanel.
Just south of the Design District and carrying on the tropical SoHo vibe is Wynwood, home to more than 100 galleries and the astonishing Wynwood Walls, an open air par dedicated to cutting-edge museum quality contemporary urban murals. Part of Miami’s Midtown area, the Wynwood neighborhood recently welcomed the first U.S.A. store of Saccaro, one of Brazil’s most celebrated and innovative furniture designBoth the Design District and Wynwood host gallery nights on the second Saturday of the month, with locals and visitors passing back and forth between the adjacent neighborhoods to explore the latest art trends and buy something special.
Yet another renaissance in the making is the rebirth of downtown Coral Gables. Traditionally a tranquil shopping and business district, Miracle Mile has been transformed into a bustling, hip Mecca for shopping, dining and entertainment. More than 170 designer boutiques and specialty stores now line the boulevard. With nearly two dozen bridal boutiques, wedding cake galleries and invitation stores, Miracle Mile has also become a preferred shopping destination for brides from all parts of the world. Savvy shoppers come every March for Downtown Coral Gables’ annual Sidewalk Sale, which coincides with the Carnaval on the Mile art festival and features 20 to 75 percent off designer eveningwear, bridal gowns, sportswear, accessories, eyewear, fine jewelry, home goods, edible treats and more.
From mega shopping centers to outlets, Miami offers malls for every style and budget. The Village of Merrick Park (www.VillageofMerrickPark.com) features nearly 800,000 square feet of high-end to mid-range retailers and restaurants in Coral Gables. Beautifully landscaped with fountains, tropical foliage and serene gardens perfect for reflecting and relaxing between purchases, Merrick Park is home to more than 100 world class shops and restaurants, with anchors Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and exclusive international designer boutiques including Gucci and Carolina Herrera. Elemis Day Spa, a world-renowned palace of pampering with locations in London and Hong Kong, opened its first South Florida location here. Conrad Miami, Hilton’s luxury brand in downtown, offers a year-round “Stay Conrad, Shop Miami” package which includes an elite shopping excursion to the Village of Merrick Park. The package includes a $50 gift card from Nordstrom, in-store complimentary beauty consultations, and round-trip transportation to the mall in the hotel’s luxury sedan. Reserve the“Saks Fifth Avenue at Bal Harbour Shops Experience” with St. Regis Bal Harbour and get oceanview accommodations, a $200 Saks Fifth Avenue gift card, private shopping experience in the Fifth Avenue Club, including champagne upon arrival, a Fifth Avenue Club wardrobe consultant at your service, complimentary cosmetic makeover with gift, priority alterations and complimentary delivery of purchases to The St. Regis Bal Harbour across the street.
The prestigious Bal Harbour Shops (www.BalHarbourShops.com), located one block from the ocean at the northern end of Miami Beach, set the standard for upper echelon shopping centers when it opened in 1965, with a reputation for the finest quality shops and products. Home to the first Neiman Marcus department store outside of Texas, the Bal Harbour Shops rewrote the book on retailing with its beautiful out-of-doors garden setting and top-notch couture tenants. One of Miami’s premiere tourist attractions, according to industry bible Womens Wear Daily, Bal Harbour Shops is perennially ranked one of the most productive shopping centers in the U.S. With a collection of exclusive and luxurious retail stores that would be hard to find side by side almost anywhere else in the world outside of Paris, Milan or New York. The Shops’ directory reads like a who’s who of the elite names in fashion and jewelry: Bulgari, Jimmy Choo, Harry Winston, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Tiffany & Co., Fendi, Versace and dozens more such as independent boutique Lulu, one of the best denim stores in town.
Two other Miami-Dade shopping centers are hot destinations for avid shoppers. South Miami’s Dadeland Mall (www.Simon.com) is a traditional enclosed shopping mall featuring an excellent retail mix of 185 stores. Anchored by Florida’s largest Macy*s, as well as Macy*s Home Gallery & Kids, JCPenney, Saks Fifth Avenue, the country’s largest The Limited/Express store and Nordstrom, Dadeland Mall out of area visitors special offers and discounts in the “Style Savings Book” featuring great promotions from participating retailers including Macy’s, Ann Taylor, Bath & Body Works, Brookstone, Godiva Chocolatier, GNC, Koko & Palenki, Nine West, Perfumania, Saks Fifth Avenue and more.
Ranked by Travel + Leisure as the second most visited shopping center in the U.S. and boasting more than 300 retailers and restaurants, Aventura Mall(www.AventuraMall.com) to the north also features six anchor department stores, a 24-screen theater and a full slate of year-round events including a weekly farmer’s market, children’s activities, fashion shows and fundraisers. The mall offers domestic and international visitors the Aventura Mall Rewards shopping program, featuring a 10 percent savings certificate at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Sears, along with more than 90 additional offers. Visitors can arrange to receive the card through their travel agent before they leave home, or simply show a passport or driver’s license at the MasterCard Concierge Center at Aventura Mall. In addition, visitors presenting more than $100 in Aventura Mall receipts receive a special gift. Along with premier shopping, dining and entertainment, visitors are offered a variety of guest services, including complimentary personal shoppers at Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s, multi-lingual concierges, foreign money exchange and more.
Savings is the lure at Dolphin Mall (www.ShopDolphinMall.com), located just five miles west of Miami International Airport. Miami-Dade County’s largest retail value shopping center, Dolphin Mall blends the hottest concepts in theme entertainment and dining with more than 240 value-oriented stores, from Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store and Coach Factory Store to Last Call by Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th. Designed to reflect Miami’s rich multicultural heritage, the mall is divided into three zonas (zones) which group similar stores and restaurants together. Ramblas (Walk) features a lively village square full of exciting restaurants and entertainment venues, while Playa (Beach) offers South Beach-style shopping for casual apparel, accessories and charming home decor. Moda (Style) is a distinctive fashion district with chic boutiques and hip outlets.
Florida Keys Outlet Center (www.PrimeOutlets.com) in Florida City is worth the drive. About 35 minutes south of downtown Miami, bargain seekers will find 55 outlet stores from Aeropostale, Carter’s, Coach and Gap Outlet to Guess, Nike, Nine West, OskKosh B’gosh and Tommy Hilfiger.
Shopping can be a guilty pleasure when you’re vacationing in a tropical paradise, but many of Miami’s shopping destinations are picturesque open-air affairs, offering visitors plenty of blue skies and sunshine. The Falls (www.ShopTheFalls.com), one of the largest open-air shopping, dining and entertainment complexes in the U.S., is filled with quiet lagoons and wooden walkways surrounded by lush tropical foliage. Here shoppers can find Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, the first American Girl® store in Florida and more than 100 stores, restaurants, cafés and Regal Cinemas.
The Shops at Sunset Place (www.Simon.com) has majestic waterfalls, cascading fountains, a dramatic grand staircase and even 35-foot Banyan trees. Bayside Marketplace (www.BaysideMarketplace.com), downtown Miami’s waterfront shopping/dining and entertainment center across from PortMiami, is the gateway to over 140 shops, great live music and fabulous food and drink. Here shoppers can hop on a refreshing Bay cruise, from tours of the celebrity homes on Star Island to gambling cruises.
Mary Brickell Village in the heart of downtown Miami’s Brickell financial district offers nearly 50 upscale boutiques, including signature retailers such as Village Humidor, Sowinski Jewelers, Jared M., Edward Biener Eyewear, Studio LX, Brickell Jewelers and Joanna Paige shoes and accessories. This dining Mecca includes more than 10 hip eateries offering tastes from around the world, such as Rosa Mexicano, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Grimpa Steakhouse, Balans, Blue Martini, Fado Irish Pub and Cavas Wine Bar. CocoWalk (www.Cocowalk.net) and nearby Mayfair in the Grove (www.MayfairInTheGrove.net)offer a mix of exclusive specialty shops, dining and entertainment – a perfect complement to the unique boutiques, galleries and cafes that line the streets of artsy Coconut Grove. CocoWalk, a grand open-air lifestyle center just step from Biscayne Bay, is a fabulous place to dine, shop, view gallery art, watch a movie, enjoy live music, or sip a cocktail with friends at a lively bar. Mayfair in the Grove is home to Mayfair Hotel & Spa, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, several unique art galleries and retail shops. A short walk from CocoWalk and Mayfair is Unika, a local favorite for West Coast fashions like Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent as well as Miami designers like Karina Grimaldi
Visitors to Miami who enjoy strolling open-air markets for fresh produce, organic products and handmade textiles, clothing and other items can find a farmer’s market in just about every neighborhood throughout the city. And those who just can’t resist a bargain will exult in flea markets that offer a potpourri of new and used products.
The Market Company, South Florida’s premier farmers’ market developers, offers a wide variety of markets throughout Greater Miami and the Beaches, such as the Lincoln Road Farmer’s market, held every Sunday and offering orchids, fruits, vegetables, fresh cut flowers, plants and other items, such as bread, honey, jams and jellies. The company also organizes lively markets at Mary Brickell Village, Aventura Mall, Key Biscayne, Normandy Village, Shops at Sunset, University of Miami and various Metrorail stations.
The Coconut Grove Saturday Organic Farmer’s Market, which runs on Saturday mornings, qualifies as the oldest and most traditional of Miami’s outdoor markets, with a mouth-watering array of local produce and ready-to-eat delicacies. Coral Gables’ Farmers Market on the Plaza, held every Saturday in April and May from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Museum Plaza, lets food lovers indulge in wonderful produce, yummy artisan food creations, honey, flowers, breads, artists, kids’ activities music and more. The Redland Farmer’s Market, based in Miami’s agriculture center in South Miami Dade County, offers fresh exotic produce and meats on weekends, as well as hotspot Lucky Meat’s for tacos and burritos and a large flea market.
Bargain hunters head to the flea markets, discovering a plethora of diverse merchandise in festive, fun environments that reflect Miami’s multicultural population. The Opa Locka-Hialeah Flea Market is the granddaddy of all South Florida flea markets. Open daily, the market features 1,200 dealers selling everything imaginable.
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