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The Style Issue 2024: Designer Destination

Nashville Scene

March 28, 2024

Nashville’s New Position as a Luxury Fashion Hub

For years, Nashville’s high-end fashion scene could have been kindly described as arid. Few retailers carried luxury brands, and those that did — department stores like McClures, Jamie, Harveys and Cain-Sloan, for example — have since shuttered (though ​​Gus Mayer has remained the stalwart leader of boutiques for high-design attire). Fashion-minded Nashvillians used to have to travel to New York or Atlanta to buy high-design attire.

But those days are long gone thanks to a new school of retailers expanding the local shopping scene with elevated fashion and trusted brands. With the influx of new residents and a generational shift in the market, Nashville has become an attractive location for luxury fashion brands.

Though luxury retail contracted during the height of the pandemic, it’s since bounced back. Luxury sales in the U.S. rose by 8.5 percent in 2021 to reach more than $64.1 billion, the brokerage firm JLL noted in a 2022 report on luxury retail.

Since the pandemic, luxury retailers have focused on opening more storefronts — often outside of central business districts and in less densely populated areas. Nashville has been one of the largest-growing markets for luxury retailers like Chanel, which opened a beauty store in the Mall at Green Hills in 2022, as well as Veronica Beard. Growth in the luxury retail segment continued in 2023, and seems to be holding strong in 2024. Here’s a look at some of Nashville’s best retail destinations.

The Mall at Green Hills

Opened in 1955 as an open-air strip mall, the Mall at Green Hills has been a shopping destination for discerning Nashvillians for decades. Since then, it’s transitioned into a lifestyle center with a robust home-goods category, featuring retailers like Arhaus, Crate & Barrel and Tennessee’s only RH.

“Shopping centers tend to be more successful when they have a strong mix of luxury, unique-to-market and innovative brands,” Norah Buikstra, Mall at Green Hills general manager, tells the Scene. “In 2019, we added contemporary stores, the hottest fashion brands and many unique-to-market tenants and restaurants. These additions rounded out our retail mix and expanded our offerings to a larger audience.”

The mall encompasses more than 1 million square feet in retail space, and houses some of the top brands in the country. Recently, its roster expanded to include not only the aforementioned Chanel Beauty, but also Saint Laurent, Gucci, St. John and more.

“Nashville is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S.,” says Mandy West, senior vice president of retail, wholesale and buying for St. John. West notes that St. John had been eyeing a Nashville expansion since 2019. “We also have a very successful and long-standing relationship with Nordstrom, so we were confident our loyal clients [had] been waiting for a space where we [could] showcase a more in-depth product assortment.”

Kirna Zabête

Just a few blocks from the Mall at Green Hills sits Kirna Zabête, a stand-alone boutique that was originally based in New York. The brand — owned by former fashion editor Beth Buccini — strives to dress women seven days a week, whether they’re making a trip to the grocery store or attending black-tie events.

Kirna Zabête primarily offers luxury designers not seen in the Nashville market before. “There are names you know, like Loewe, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, etc.,” says Buccini. “And then [there are] a lot of surprises, because that’s what makes shopping fun.”

After years in the fashion magazine industry, Buccini opened the first Kirna Zabête in New York’s SoHo in 1999, and the boutique quickly became known as something like a candy store for designer fashion. The brand has since expanded to several more locations.

“We are thrilled with the move to Nashville,” Buccini says. “I’ve just returned from a buying trip to Paris and Milan, and all the Europeans wanted to hear most about our Nashville store.”

Buccini says the expansion has already paid off.

“We opened in mid-November, and were profitable in November! The response has been extraordinary.”

Fifth + Broadway

Luxury shopping has also expanded beyond the traditional boundaries of Green Hills and Belle Meade to locations like 12South and downtown. Opened in 2021, the downtown destination Fifth + Broadway has garnered attention as a luxury dining and shopping experience located just steps from the Honky-Tonk Highway.

Giving bachelorettes in miniskirts and cowboy boots a luxurious detour from taking shots on Broadway, Fifth + Broad offers a unique blend of local restaurants with high-end retailers that had not previously been seen in Music City. Guests to the mixed-use retail space find brands like Ariat, Carhartt, Free People and more. Anchored by an Apple Store, the complex also offers downtown residents and office workers elevated retail and dining options unseen since the closure of the downtown mall Church Street Center.

“[Nashville is] an ‘it city’ for business and entertainment, and Fifth + Broadway epitomizes Nashville — a world-class, generational asset that draws locals and tourists alike,” says Ward Kampf, president of Northwood Retail.

12 South Collection

The newly opened 12 South Collection added unique, high-end retailers to the already bustling 12South neighborhood. The space was specifically enticing to new-to-Nashville luxury retailers that wanted to attract visitors and locals to their stores.

“It’s an honor to help bring a mix of the most sought-after and first-to-market brands to 12South,” says Stephen Summers, owner and president of Mockingbird Interests. He adds that he wants the 12 South Collection additions to complement the businesses already in the neighborhood.

“Our goal is to celebrate Nashville’s growth by thoughtfully cultivating these important retail relationships, which will contribute to the dynamic energy of the city,” Summers says. Brands that have already opened in the complex include PAIGE, Rag & Bone, Alice + Olivia, Mejuri and Oliver Peoples, with more on the way.