New York designer Naeem Khan is moving his headquarters to Miami — and building a high school next door for students who want to study fashion.
The school will sit on the Miami River next to Khan’s proposed corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility and serve as an extension of Miami-Dade’s popular Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH).
Khan — a celebrity designer who has dressed Beyoncé, Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, to name a few — said the idea is to train a future generation of designers and entrepreneurs in an effort to revitalize Miami-Dade’s fashion industry.
“It not only creates education, but it also creates jobs for the city,” he said at Wednesday’s School Board meeting. “And I think the combination of what we are doing will enhance the fashion industry and build a new industry that doesn’t exist in Miami today.”
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The roughly 26,000-square-foot school will provide enough space to quadruple DASH’s fashion program, which has approximately 100 students. Demand for the program always exceeds the number of slots at the magnet school, which U.S. News & World Report ranked as one of the country’s top 25 public high schools last year.
At the new campus, students will get hands-on training in fashion design and have the opportunity to intern with Khan’s company.
The goal is to replicate the model at design colleges like the Parsons School of Design in New York City, explained Jaime Torrens, the school district’s chief facilities officer. “I envision this like a campus where they’re cross-pollinating” with the company headquarters next door, he said. “In addition to the creative side, [Khan] is also interested in teaching them to operate successful businesses.”
Khan has been in discussions with the Miami-Dade school district for the past year. He told the School Board that he sees the school as an opportunity to give back to his adopted country, to which he immigrated from India as a teenager.
“Somebody gave me in America a life which I always dreamt of,” he said. “I felt this was the time that I give back to the country that made me who I am.”
In addition to designing ornate gowns for celebrities, Khan has a consumer line of clothing and bridal gowns at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and other upscale stores.
The fashion school is planned to open in August 2020. Khan will begin the process of designing the school with district administrators and Miami architecture firm Arquitectonica next month, Torrens said. Arquitectonica has created renderings for Khan’s Miami studio.
The School Board approved a sublease agreement for the new fashion school on Wednesday. Under the terms of the agreement, Khan’s company will pay for the construction of the school. In exchange, the school district will pay $930,000 a year in rent for the first year with a 3 percent increase for the following 19 years. After 20 years, the rent will drop to $1 a year.
Khan first solidified plans to move his business to Miami in 2014 after Miami-Dade commissioners approved a discounted land deal to lease the fashion magnate county-owned land at 1175 NW South River Drive. Under the terms of the agreement, the designer must create at least 50 jobs for Miami-Dade residents at his new company headquarters and manufacturing facility.