By Kathryn Wexler
On Thursday night Shop Miami, an annual retail bash featuring 40 mostly homegrown designers and independent boutiques offering their wares at deep discounts, takes over the Design District’s Moore Building. Now in its third year, Shop Miami is organized by Gen Art, a national non-profit group that nurtures talent in fashion and the arts. Organizers say their goal is two-fold: to spread awareness of local talent and entrepreneurs, and to help them move merchandise fast.
"It’s a great way for designers to get money their pockets," said Monica Glass, Gen Art’s regional director of events. Shoppers drop, on average, a total of $50,000 at Shop Miami, she said. Miami-based accessories designer Adriana Castro is a repeat participant. She sells samples and spring/summer merchandise partly to interact with local customers. "It’s a great local event," said Castro, "I like to actually meet people who buy [my line]."
Gen Art requires that vendors have at least 25 items and that they be "relevant to the Gen Art audience, which is 25- to 39-years-old, hip and affluent," Glass said. Among those who made the cut this year: Claudia e, Downtown Divas, KRELwear, Nazly Villamizar, Once Upon a Time, Toff, Tricia Fix and Zen 3. Shop Miami feels like a hipster’s flea market. There are leather purses, handmade jewelry, trendy dresses, bathing suits — the range of merchandise is broad.
An average of 1,500 people attend, jostling for goods. This year, DJ Induce will spin (inevitably high-decibel) tunes. Lace Nail Lab is offering free manicures and hand massages, there’s a fashion show at 9 p.m. showcasing all Shop Miami vendors, free alcohol flows from sponsors and kooky Gen Art cupcakes are at the ready.
Ben Abounassif, co-owner of B1 Lifeshop, at 6900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, hopes Shop Miami will raise the profile of his new store. "Sales — that’s always important," Abounassif said. "But mainly we want people to get to know us."
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