By Lori Riviere
The show must go on, as they say…and it did at this year’s Miami Swim Week, despite IMG’s absence. IMG, the fashion week production powerhouse that produced Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in the tents at The Raleigh hotel for 10 years, announced in late April that it would not be hosting shows for the 2016 Season. Miami Swim Week has grown to rely on the synergistic blend of both trade shows and runway shows, and many industry insiders worried that the announcement from IMG would impact attendance.
Fashion industry heavy hitters like LDJ Productions and SBI Productions scrambled to develop the SWIMMIAMI platform for designers to show their collections in a runway format in two venues, the W South Beach and the 1 Hotel South Beach. Local producer Funkshion also increased venue options for designers. Ultimately, the concerted effort produced runway schedules featuring more than 30 designer presentations. Trade show producers also worked hard to assure buyers and the media that the week in Miami would be worth the visit. The extra effort paid off; overall attendance increased from the 2015 Season shows.
The three trade shows—Cabana, Hammock (formerly known as Salon Allure) and SwimShow—followed roughly the same format as in previous years. SwimShow, the largest of the three, was noticeably smaller this year as the Miami Beach Convention Center is undergoing a large-scale renovation and expansion. The trade show still had a strong curated mix of established core brands and newcomers. This international show exposed brands from the United States to buyers from Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and many more countries.
Cabana—housed in two extended tents outside the W Hotel, with its laid-back ambience—included brands from accessory and shoe designers to offer buyers expanded product selections and more category options.
Hammock, an expansion of the Salon Allure trade show, saw the biggest changes this season, with the addition of a new format to its temporary show room spaces in the W South Beach. The new format doubled the show’s size and included trade show booths in the ballroom of the W South Beach, allowing buyers to discover new brands in between appointments in the hotel suites. Rick Fatzinger—owner of SBI, the company that produces Hammock—said he saw a 45 percent increase in buyers and media attending the show from the previous season, and he received positive feedback on the new format. The first edition of MarediModa Miami, featuring suppliers of beachwear fabric collections, occupied a wing of suites at Hammock.
The runway shows during Swim Week were the biggest difference from previous seasons. Due to the incorporation of many new venues that had not been utilized in previous seasons, the sheer number of fashion presentations was extensive and at times a little overwhelming. The majority of the shows were held at the W South Beach and 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach (both under the SWIMMIAMI umbrella), as well as in a large tent erected by Funkshion producers across the street from Cabana at Collins Park. Clearly the choices for show attendees were numerous and varied, and generated excitement galore.
Standout shows this season included Mia Marcelle. The design house made a huge impact for their third collection with their first solo runway show at the 1 Hotel, where models strutted the runway in gold-painted masks and bouffant hairstyles. Guest attendees were treated to luxurious gift bags complete with a beach towel, plastic beach-ready wineglasses, beach hats and lip balm.
Frankie’s Bikinis drew an extensive crowd at the pool deck of the W South Beach. Enthusiastic guests watched Rocky Barnes and other top swimwear models dance down the runway to the beat of a calypso band, emanating a jubilant vibe that captured the essence of Miami and the fun of Swim Week. Popular shows in the Funkshion tent included newcomers Robb & Lulu and Maxim, and the veteran design houses of Tori Praver and Acacia.
Several designers, including Mikoh, Wildfox and Mara Hoffman, decided to opt out of a traditional runway format and instead hosted presentation-style shows paired with cocktail parties and a festive atmosphere to give attendees an intimate look into the brand’s soul. Mara Hoffman chose to show off her unique collection at The Villa, Casa Casuarina, the former Versace Mansion. Her fashion presentation, held in the mansion courtyard, had a Moroccan theme and was a crowd favorite.
Overall, Miami Swim Week thrived and was considered a huge success despite IMG’s absence. Veteran show producers stepped up to the plate, providing well-organized runway shows that resulted in a dynamic SWIMMIAMI. Funkshion’s expansion of venue offerings provided a bevy of runway platforms for designers and gave attendees plenty of options, even if they were a bit more spread out than in previous years.
About the Author
Lori Riviere is the owner of The Riviere Agency, a fashion public relations and creative agency. The Riviere Agency has offices in Miami and New York, and offers services to fashion clients that range from photo-shoot production to public relations and blogger and influencer outreach. The agency has developed a particular specialty in the swimwear industry, working with more than 50 swim and resortwear brands, ranging from major established labels to start-ups.