Cottage Miami: Q&A with Ariel Burman

Often times, when people talk about the fashion meccas of the world, the cities mentioned are New York, London, Milan and Paris. What a lot of people fail to realize is that Miami has a unique and distinct style of its very own – not to mention its abundance of deep-pocketed celebrities and some of the most beautiful people you’ll ever  find concentrated in one zip code. A bright and shining spot on the Miami menswear scene is the new shop Cottage founded by Ariel Burman. As far as expertly curated men’s boutiques go, this new store ranks right up there with the best in any city. 

Learn more about Cottage in our exclusive interview with Ariel Burman below…

“I don’t like to take the store too seriously. It should be a place where people feel comfortable …”

What is your background in menswear/men’s fashion and why did you decide to open your shop – Cottage?

No background in menswear whatsoever. I was living in New York as a lawyer and realized almost immediately that it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing. I always felt like I had a pulse on the menswear scene, and decided I wanted to do something in that space in one way or another. Being from Miami, I would be back and forth quite a bit, and always found it hard to find the same style of clothes I could find in New York at shops like Odin, and now Carson Street. I moved back down to Miami a little over a year ago and started on this retail concept.

Talk to us about the interior design and the other different features of your shop that set it apart from other menswear boutiques?

I think it’s always cool when you walk into a store and you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere. People remember your store in a way that’s different than just walking into a “nice” boutique. I wanted the store to have an overall theme and vibe, and interior design is an integral part of that. I always liked the idea of designing a store with the feel of a beach cottage, and the style of clothing I carry has a preppy/surf vibe, so I thought the two would go hand in hand. As for the canoe, I just thought it would be fun to have one somewhere in the store. I was thinking about a surf board, but considering I don’t surf, I just felt that would have been a little ridiculous.

I don’t like to take the store too seriously. It should be a place where people feel comfortable just coming by and hanging out. We have a retractable glass garage door that I keep open as much as possible and I have beer on tap as well as a refrigerator stocked with craft beer. I never liked the experience of walking into a store and feeling like I either shouldn’t be there or there’s an expectation to make a purchase.  That’s not the experience I want to provide at Cottage.

How do you go about curating the brands carried in the shop – what are the customer favorites?

I really just started out curating brands I wore myself, and one of the reasons I opened the store is that you couldn’t really find those brands in Miami. From there I really just added brands that not only fit the theme of the store, but added something different and unique.

I wouldn’t really say that there any specific favorites. All the brands offer something different that people like. Band of Outsiders, Saturdays Surf, Michael Bastian, Todd Snyder – people are buying items for different occasions from each brand – day at the beach, just walking around, casual dinner outfit, dressier dinner outfit. At the same time I have customers that identify with certain brands because that’s the fit that they like best.

Does Miami style play a big part in how you choose the clothes – or do you cater to a more global gentleman?

I choose clothes based on what I like, and also what I see from my customers. You want to try and direct your customer into the styles that you believe in, but it also works both ways. Sometimes you’ll find that your customer isn’t receptive to certain styles, fits, etc and you need to make those changes accordingly without sacrificing your vision.

What other lifestyle items do you carry apart from men’s clothing and accessories?

Along with clothing, shoes, accessories we carry a full line of grooming products from Baxter of California, small leather goods and bags from Want Les Essentiels de La Vie, stationary from Terrapin Stationers and books from Assouline Publishing.

If there were three pieces you had to pick in your store now as your favorite items – what would they be?  

Michael Bastian Balloon Print Button Down

Want Les Essentiels de La Vie Kastrup Backpack

Saturdays Surf NYC Crosby Camo Button Down

When it comes to your own approach to style – what are the main rules you adhere to?

I just like to keep it simple. You’re never comfortable if you’re worrying too much. Also, try not to have style that needs to be pulled off. I like easy and classic. If you wear it right it looks good on everyone.

Some say a man’s best accessory is a beautiful woman – when it comes to fashion, what do you think is a man’s best accessory?

A good tailor

What brands are you most excited about for your boutique with regards to Spring 2014 collections?

Ovadia and Sons, Cuisse de Grenouille, Band of Outsiders, Alex Mill

What lies ahead in the future for Cottage – and why should stylish men visit Cottage when they are in Miami? 

Definitely thinking about growing in the future, but at the moment the focus is on making Cottage a retail destination here in Miami.  

See pictures of Cottage in the slideshow above.

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