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Balenciaga Transitioning to a Louis Vuitton Retail Model? Cutting Out the Middleman With a Spate of Boutique Openings

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Balenciaga's fall 2011 show

A few years ago, we heard an industry rumor that Balenciaga's long-term plan is to transition into a Louis Vuitton retail model—i.e. direct-selling to clients through standalone boutiques and independently owned shop-in-shops, and a move away from selling through multi-label department stores and specialty stories. With the luxury brand's recent spate of openings across the country—Balenciaga now owns and operates its own stores in New York, LA, Costa Mesa, and two locations in Las Vegas—it looks like that rumor may turn out to be true after all.

Today, the company takes another step in the direction of cutting out the middleman with the opening of its first standalone in the state of Florida. WWD reports that Balenciaga will open a 1,000 square foot location at Miami's Bal Harbour Shops—the most profitable shopping mall in the United States. WWD writes:

The unit showcases Balenciaga’s women’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and fragrances in a futuristic environment envisioned by artistic director Nicholas Ghesquière in collaboration with French contemporary artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster.

Accessories are housed in gold- and silver-leaf lined cubbyholes, or propped on white plinths resembling icebergs. Floors are paved with black and white marble — or olive green carpeting.

· Balenciaga to Open in Florida [WWD]