If pop stars can sell clothes and fragrances then why can’t luxury brands sell properties? Armani, Aston Martin, Missoni and others are banking on their high end clientele being swayed to buy their South Florida buildings. It's unclear if Georgio Armani himself is picking out faucets and bathroom tiles in the structures, which bear his name. But by simply leveraging his famous moniker his brand has jumped from the sidewalk to the skyscraper in one fell swoop.
The branded building seems to have found a home in sunny South Florida, where five are set to open by 2021 according to Mansion Global. With a large international populous, familiar with iconic names in fashion and cars, the trade off for developers looking to sell quick, is an astute one. In New York, where there seems to be an ongoing demand for high-end real estate, luxury brands veer toward hotels rather than residential property (Restoration Hardware, West Elm, Equinox, Shinola). In London, however, the 50-storey “Versace Tower” (real name: Aykon London One) is Britain’s first branded fashion high rise, located in the Nine Elms regeneration zone. It’s pretty swanky with the “V” for Versace Home in marble patterns inlaid into the walnut floors. The high priced tower is due to be completed in 2020. Over half of its units have been pre-sold.
Elsewhere, luxury branded residences have been well established. Dubai opened its Armani hotel in 2010, while the same company’s eco-friendly complex with Smart Hero Group in Beijing was completed in 2017. The diversifying Italian fashion house also plans to craft interiors at Century Spire in Manilla, Philippines. Fendi partnered with DAMAC Properties, creating the interiors of Dubai’s DAMAC Residenze, which also opened last year.
What a developer receives for the privilege of stamping an iconic brand’s name all over their property is instant credibility and name recognition. International buyers purchased $7.1 billion of South Florida residential properties in 2017 according to the Miami Association of Realtors — a 35 percent slice, up 41.4 percent increase from the year before. So, in a strange land a familiar name goes a long way in assuring investors their money is safe.
“Miami is more of a flashier type of city, than other areas like New York or Chicago that are a little more conservative,” said Jon Paul Perez, vice president of Related Group, one of the developers behind Residences by Armani/Casa, set to open in the city in 2019.
Where branding is concerned, one South Florida property has been creating headlines for a while — The Porsche Design Tower. A collaboration between Dezer Development and Porsche Design Group, the building comes with a high powered automobile elevator transporting drivers and their rides from street level to their apartments. Don’t expect to see any low-end rust buckets chugging into the building.
Other famous car companies have got up to speed on trading wheels for steel frames. Britain’s Aston Martin, famous for ejecting 007’s villains into the sky, has teamed up with Argentinian developer G&G Business Developments for their own Miami-based tower, which is expected to be finished by 2021. Signature amenity touches, like the hand-stitched leather door tabs—sourced from a Scottish village—and the carbon fiber lobby furniture — ensure that the famous car company isn’t there in name only.
The numbers for each deal differ. Typically the developer will pay the brand a percentage of sales, usually 2 percent to 5 percent explained Edgardo Defortuna, the president and CEO of Fortune International Group.
Many of the buyers don’t live in Miami or even the US on a full-time basis and are simply looking for a place to park their cash.
“We’d seen the Armani building in Dubai and were convinced” said Robert Thorne, CEO and founder of Miami-based The Wellness Habitat Co, who purchased a two-bedroom unit on the 25th floor at Resdiences by Armani/Casa two years ago for $1.4 million. “We knew our investment was going to be secure.”