Miansai, the Miami-based “cult favorite” jewelry brand, now sells at stores in 36 countries, and has retail stores in New York and LA. But the company’s distinctive goods—bracelets, belts, watches and jewelry inspired by fish hooks and industrial screws—were initially retailed out of something smaller. Smaller, but just as shiny: A beautifully refurbished Airstream, the first of the company’s fleet of vintage vehicles used for branding and mobile retail.
“The Airstream came to life before we had both of our flagship retail locations. It started as a great way for us, then a young company, to get experience with retail, without the huge investment of a brick and mortar location,” says Michael Saiger, founder and creative director of Miansai.
Besides the 1949 and 1958 Airstreams, the company also retails out of two restored Piaggio trucks and a vintage Fiat, and will soon add a Lambretta scooter and Volkswagen bus. “Miansai thrives on exploration and the beauty of elevated design and aesthetics,” says Saiger. “The growing fleet fits in perfectly with the always-evolving, nostalgia-inspired journey of the brand, while creating a unique, mobile shopping experience.”
Saiger located the trailers by researching them online all over the country, tracking them down through sites like eBay. After having them shipped to Miami, he and his co-founder Thier Peraza remodeled the Airstreams themselves, sourcing things like the custom-made solid walnut furniture, displays and light fixtures, and customizing everything to fit the brand.
The mobile units set up at lifestyle-focused venues and restaurants, doing particularly well at music festivals like Coachella and South by Southwest. The stores are mini-versions of their brick and mortar locations and if something isn’t in stock, they take orders. “We are always focusing on the consumer experience and making sure it’s as easy as possible,” says Saiger.
With all those mobile stores, logistics and planning must come into play. “The tour never ends!” says Saiger. “We are always looking for relevant, interesting venues and activations to partner with year-round. After the Airstream left Navy Beach in the Hamptons this summer, we moved it to the Prudential Center in Boston, where it will stay for the rest of the year. Our Fiat is currently at Dumbo in Brooklyn, and our Piaggio is at the Tom Bradley International airport at LAX. Additional locations include the 1 Hotel South Beach, the Design District and Palm Beach for the holidays.”
The vintage Airstreams fit neatly in line with Miansai’s design aesthetic, and indeed with Saiger’s world view. “Growing up, my Mom owned an antique store, and I’ve always been drawn to vintage vs. new. I think that shows through in our product, stores, and now in all of the mobile retail units. We try to purchase vehicles that fall in the mid-century modern time period, as they have very specific looks that fall in line with our brand,” he says.
Miansai has married the mid-century to the modern in its mobile units and in its unique expressions of wearable art, designed for men and women. If you see a brilliant flash when you’re moving through your next international airport, better look closely—that might be a gleam off a Miansai Airstream, beckoning you to come on in and take a look.
See the full line of Miansai products and company information at the Miansai site.
By Tom Bentley