The Miami Herald

H&M opens Friday in Miami Beach

From the neon yellow tank tops to the rainbow colored floor length kaftan and the plaid board shorts, the summer fashions at the new H&M South Beach store look like they were designed for Miami.

Warning: Quantities are limited, and the fashion-forward, affordable merchandise is expected to go fast when the H&M pop-up opens to the public at noon Friday at 1669 Meridian Ave..

The temporary store is a preview designed to whet the appetite of H&M fans before this fall’s opening of a flagship store on Lincoln Road. It’s only the second time H&M, the shortened name for the Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz, has launched a pop-up store in a new market.

The temporary location will close in September, about the time when the flagship opens just around the corner in the historical Lincoln Theatre, which is being renovated into retail space.

The timing made sense because opening now allows H&M to showcase a summer collection featuring bold neon colors and prints with plenty of tropical influences, rather than heavy fall and winter wool clothes that are likely to be a tougher sell in a market like Miami.

For the Miami pop-up store, H&M held aside inventory that has sold out at its other stores across the country. Shoppers will find walls of bikinis, cover-ups, beach towels, shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, maxi-dresses, straw hats, sunglasses, espadrilles, and more. H&M moves through merchandise quickly, constantly introducing new styles.

“You can’t buy this anywhere else because it sold out about a month ago everywhere else,” said Marybeth Schmitt, a spokeswoman for H&M in North America. “We put in extra orders for here. It seems like the perfect collection for Miami. It’s cosmopolitan, summery, and fashionable. Miami is the city of summer.”

The pent-up demand for H&M’s arrival is unlike anything experienced in Miami-Dade or Broward County since IKEA’s Sunrise opening in 2007. For years, fans had to travel beyond Florida until 2009 when the company opened in Orlando, followed a year later by Palm Beach Gardens.

Known both for affordability and style savvy, H&M has become a favorite with celebrities, including first lady Michelle Obama and actresses Drew Barrymore and Michelle Williams. Still, it’s not uncommon to find items for $4.95 and there’s rarely anything that costs more than $50 — even in limited-edition collections featuring top fashion names like Versace, Stella McCartney, and Jimmy Choo.

“Just to have an H&M come to Miami is a big deal,” said Gino Campodonico, 28, who lives in Midtown Miami. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I imagine people are going to be crazy at noon tomorrow.”

Campodonico sneaked into the pop-up store during a media preview on Thursday, where he piled up a stack of items reserved for purchase Friday, including a straw fedora hat, swimsuit, canvas shoes, and a few T-shirts.

But Real Housewives of Miami cast member Alexia Echevarria was disappointed she couldn’t buy the pale green eyelet skirt and blouse combo she had her eye on or the board shorts for her sons.

“It’s like being in a candy store and you can’t eat anything,” said Echevarria, also Venue Magazine editor. “The fashion is right up our alley and how we dress here. The price points are amazing. I think there’s really something here for everyone.”

The current collection features bargains like $4.95 for a bikini top and the same price for a matching bottom. For $12.95 are a neon palm-tree printed wrap skirt and a mini-dress in nearly a dozen different patterns and colors. A floor-length kaftan costs $24.95; aviator sunglasses run $9.95 in multiple colors. Men’s dress shorts? A mere $29.95.

The approximately 3,380-square-foot temporary Miami Beach store features only an edited selection of fashion and accessories for women with a small corner of men’s merchandise. The flagship store will have more than 10 times the amount of selling space and will include collections for children and maternity.

Although the publicly-traded H&M has more than 2,500 stores in 44 markets worldwide, the brand spent years looking at real estate before it settled on a location in Miami Beach. The international company’s market capitalization is valued at about $50 billion.

“It took us this long because we were waiting for the right space,” Schmitt said. “We really want to be here.”

H&M Pop-Up Shop

Location: 1669 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach

Open: Friday at noon through Sept. 2012

Phone: 305-695-0324

Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.





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