April 30, 2018
Three years ago, Rani Zantout, a venture capitalist in Miami, realized that his 1,900-square-foot apartment in Trump Towers in Sunny Isles Beach was getting too cramped for him, his wife, and two kids. He went on the hunt for a larger place, and found something with a little extra flair—a four-bedroom, five-bathroom unit in the upcoming Residences by Armani/Casa, a luxury beachfront highrise opening in June 2019.
Mr. Zantout, 37,is a fan of the brand’s V-neck T-shirts and underwear, and was impressed during his stay at the Armani Hotel in Dubai. To him, the space he was getting, paired with the brand’s reputation for quality, was worth the $3.05 million price tag. “It’s something that is going to be stamped by Mr. Armani,” he said. “It’s a no brainer.”
Armani’s new building, which is being developed by Dezer Development in Miami, will be its first real estate project in the U.S., and part of a growing number of developments popping up around the world with interiors by major fashion brands.
Partnerships like these have become more common because both sides have something to gain, said Thomai Serdari, a luxury marketing strategist and professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. The developments get publicity, while the fashion houses get to expand their reach to customers. “It’s beneficial to both the developer and brands,” she said.
It has been a successful strategy for Dezer, according to Sebastian Tettamanti, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. Having already developed Miami’s Trump Towers, Porsche Design Tower and wrapping up Armani/Casa by next year, Mr. Tettamanti said that Dezer is already in talks with other luxury brands for new real estate projects, details of which he declined to disclose.
“For us, it is easier to partner with a luxury brand than to try to create a brand from nothing,” he said.
In terms of design, the Armani branding is more apparent in the building’s common areas—such as the private lounge, cigar room and movie theater—than in the residences themselves. While the kitchens and bathrooms will be finished with Armani-designed cabinetry and details, the rest of the apartment will be left to the buyers to decide. “You have to bring in your decorator to finish the unit,” Mr. Tettamanti said.
Mr. Zantout said he is happy with the lack of overt branding within the unit. “It’s subtle,” he said.
DAMAC Properties, a Dubai-based developer, has also been keen on these partnerships. In 2017, it opened a 28-floor residential tower in Beirut featuring Versace interiors. Now, they are preparing two new fashion-forward developments in London and Dubai.
“We strive to create associations with renowned luxury brands, including fashion houses, that appeal to certain audiences,” DAMAC Senior Vice President Niall McLoughlin said in an email to Mansion Global. “These are bespoke products, so it’s not every day one has the opportunity to own a branded home to live in or as an investment.”
At the 50-story AYKON London One, apartments feature a marble V in the entryway’s floor, as well as Versace branding on some of the floorboards and the bathroom’s backsplash, according to Christian de Meillac,, a listing agent with Harrods Estates who is responsible for a number of the building’s apartments. Units range from £747,000 (US$1.06 million) for a studio, to £15.49 million (US$22 million) for a 15-bedroom apartment occupying an entire floor, listings show. The penthouses have not yet been released to market.
In Dubai, the three-bedroom, four-bathroom Just Cavalli villas scheduled to open in 2020 start at a relative bargain of AED1.3 million (US$354,000). Located within the planned Akoya Oxygen community outside of the city center, the Just Cavalli villas will utilize Roberto Cavalli’s signature animal prints and earthy hues in both the interior fabrics and wallcoverings as well as the exterior stonework, according to Mr. McLoughlin.
By teaming up with developers, fashion companies find an opportunity to expand beyond their own volatile industry, according to Ms. Serdari. “All fashion companies have exactly the same problem—it is hard to keep up as culture changes,” she said. “Fashion brands need to find a way to get out of that predicament.”
Meanwhile, Missoni is getting in on the action with their first branded building, the 57-story Missoni Baia under development by OKO Group in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood.
Scheduled to open by the end of 2020, Baia will feature amenities including a pet spa, a gym with views of the bay and 24-hour concierge, according to press materials on the new building. The interiors will be designed by Paris Forino Design under the direction of Missoni, and will feature the Italian fashion house’s distinctive color palette.
Even with this spate of designer buildings, though, you will not likely see a Chanel apartment complex anytime soon. French fashion houses, according to Ms. Serdari, are beholden to the tradition of haute couture, which is focused firmly on fashion.
On the other hand, Italian fashion houses, often lead by a single visionary à la Giorgio Armani or Donatella Versace, are more broadly concerned with overall aesthetics, Ms. Serdari said, allowing these brands to be more willing to apply their design to other lifestyle sectors.
The buyers for designer residences are definitely out there, according to Ms. Serdari. “To this younger generation that has the money to spend, they only spend on very expensive brands,” she said. “Why not take that concept and expand it to all the aspects of their lives?”