Miami Swim Week just keeps getting better and better. What started out as solely a trade event 30 years ago—when the Swimwear Association of Florida debuted its annual convention—has grown into the largest expo in the world for the swim category, full of buyer appointments, cocktail parties, consumer-driven events, and high-wattage, IMG-produced runway shows.
This season, as always, we have our radar set on up-and-coming designers, though eternal favorites—from Red Carter’s artful-meets-sexy creations to the poolside-chic vibe of Mara Hoffman—rank high on our list, as well. But we also look forward to the little, yet vital, touch-ups: The Raleigh, site of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim, has been undergoing renovations, making those rooftop swim presentations so much more enticing. “I know they’ve spent a lot of time on the renovations to really make it right, especially for the penthouse and the public areas,” says IMG Fashion’s Christina Neault, executive producer of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim, now in its eighth year and set for July 19 to 23. “Our attendees will immediately see those improvements.”
Neault and her team have likewise been tinkering with the formula of their show schedule of more than 25 shows and presentations, bringing in new lines this season, like the French-inspired Éclairée, the brainchild of South Florida-raised creative director Kelly Carrington, as well as producing two group shows—a cost-effective alternative for smaller lines such as those presenting on July 23: Aguaclara, Aquarella Swimwear, Cote d’Or Swimwear, and Sauvage, among others. “It’s a smart idea, especially for newcomers,” Neault says of the concept, “because they’re going to experience a buzz and get press from their shared event.”
Over at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Swimwear Association of Florida (SAF) celebrates its 30th anniversary with a show that SAF executive director Judy Stein calls “bigger, bolder, and brighter than ever.” Set for July 21 to 24, the event features 2,500 brands from 60 countries, with more than 100 companies exhibiting for the first time and 7,500 manufacturers, trade VIPs, and journalists expected to attend. Last year, men’s and children’s lines performed exceptionally well, Stein says, while caftans and other cover-up or après-swim pieces also are growing in popularity. “The swimwear industry is at a peak and at the healthiest point in its history,” she says, noting that the global market is estimated to reach $17.6 billion by 2015. With numbers like those, expect the pool—and Swim Week—to only get bigger.
ABOVE: The Mara Hoffman show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim 2011