Miami Beach Swim Week returns, bigger than ever

Casting models, putting together “looks,” choosing music, arranging hair and makeup: Swimwear designer Monica Wise is in a whirlwind, preparing for the biggest week of her career.

She’s launching two new lines to complement her L*SPACE collection, and as an added touch for the debut, she’s having models strutting the runway with bodies painted in metallic gold.

Wise, creative director of Irvine, Calif.-based L*SPACE, is among the scores of designers headed to South Beach this week to unveil their latest collections at Swim Week, the annual extravaganza that harkens the start of the next resortwear season.

“Its going to be huge — it’s bigger than ever, with a lot of celebrities coming to town,” said Wise, who has shown her collections here every year since she started her company in 2000. “We have a packed house — all pre-booked seating for a lot of editors and bloggers who really drive the social media, and we also have key retailers who will be sitting front row.”

Swim Week brings the sexy, unabashed world of swimwear to Miami Beach through Tuesday, with a full spectrum of trade and fashion shows and poolside soirees — luring designers, retailers, models, fashion show producers and international press to South Florida, all to feast their eyes on the latest designs.

And this year, it promises to be hotter than ever, with a growing roster of swimwear and accessories designers, more fashion shows and plenty of parties.

“It’s electric,” Wise said. “There’s nothing like it. This is like the Emmys for me.”

Show organizers have had to turn designers away, while several additional hotels — like Soho Beach House — and stores — like the Webster — are serving as venues to show collections.

Among the expected trends this year: more one-pieces and high-waisted suits or “midkinis,” lots of flowery and animal prints, crochet and macramé, plus new children’s lines.

It’s all to jump-start sales in an industry that apparently knows no bounds.

Overall, the U.S. swimwear market raked in almost $4.2 billion for the 12 months ended in May — a 5 percent increase over the previous year, according to the NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y.

SwimShow, the cornerstone trade show of Swim Week and the catalyst for global resortwear sales, is celebrating its 30th year. This year, it sold out faster than ever, and has more designers — upwards of 2,500 lines — including 100 new ones, from nearly 400 companies, said Judy Stein, executive director of the Swimwear Association of Florida, which puts on SwimShow.

Among the best known brands: Gottex, Vitamin A, L*SPACE, Tori Praver and Trina Turk.

Designers hail from around the globe, including from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Italy, France, Spain and Monaco, Stein said.

“We help launch brands,” she said. “They come here, they’ve got stars in their eyes and they are all excited, and we provide the venue for them to be able to exhibit.”

For the second year, SwimShow will offer a sister LingerieShow. Both shows run Saturday through Tuesday at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“It’s just an additional element to make it simpler for those retailers that carry both products to find it here,” Stein said.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim is setting up two massive tents outside the Raleigh in South Beach to host five days of invitation-only fashion shows and events.

Now in its eighth year, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim will be showcasing 32 international designers from 11 countries, said executive producer Christina Neault.

“I think the industry sees the value in doing shows and supporting their sales,” Neault said.

Among the well-known brands parading the Mercedes-Benz runways will be Lisa Blue, Agua Bendita, Poko Pano, Dolores Cortés, Mara Hoffman Swim, Red Carter, White Sands Australia, Luli Fama and L*SPACE.

New to Swim Week is New York-based Éclairée, which will debut its French-inspired, European-influenced Spring/Summer collection in the Raleigh’s Penthouse.

“Miami Swim Week is all about swimwear, so it is very fitting, a no brainer, something I absolutely had to do,” said Kelly Carrington, founder and creative director of Éclairée.

Down the street, at the W South Beach, Salon Allure will hold its third annual trade show geared for luxury brands, Saturday through Tuesday.

Salon Allure will take over two floors this year instead of one, with 56 swimwear and resortwear designers — up from 31. In addition, the show will feature a new accessories exhibit, called Style Works, with 16 brands, said Rick Fatzinger, president of Salon Allure.

The trade show’s budget, which is in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” has more than doubled this year, Fatzinger said.

“For a small company that just started just a little over two years ago, it was a big jump to double the show,” he said.

The invitation-only kick-off party Friday night will feature a group fashion show of all the designers, with models walking a runway built over the pool at the W South Beach.

Designers are coming from Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Israel, Australia and Mexico, in addition to the United States. Among the luxury brands are La Perla, Miguelina, Marysia, Maggie May, Mikoh Swimwear and Haeckel Haus, which is making its U.S. debut.

Also launching at Salon Allure is Carolina Lamb, a Fort Lauderdale-based children’s swimwear designer.

Lamb Glam swimsuits have optional snaps on the bottom and come in different styles, in prints and solids that can be mixed and matched. The line also includes palazzo pants, cover-up skirts and hoodies.

“It’s dress-up swimwear that is appropriate for the beach and the pool, and they feel they are glamorous in it,” Lamb said.




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