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The eighth annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim at the Raleigh hooked a handful of key designers. Among the 32 on show, Mara Hoffman, L*Space and Cia.Maritima sent out strong, cohesive collections, while the move to New York seems to have benefited Red Carter, who showed a more defined vision with Aztec prints, metallic colorblocking and heavy Art Deco beading in approachable silhouettes with improved fit.
Suboo, a Sydney-based collection of cover-ups and beach umbrellas, made its MBFW Swim debut in conjunction with an expansion into swim and ready-to-wear for 2013. Designer Sue Di Chio’s sophisticated take on colorblocking included an orange and blue, pleated maxidress in silk chiffon and a sculpted one piece in a sunny psychedelic print and black mesh.
“This is the perfect platform for a serious, emerging Australian brand to premiere categories to a new audience,” she said.
In its second season, Eclairee proved the most surprising for its French-inspired freshness. Founder and designer Kelly Carrington took the modest approach with feminine one pieces in pastel and nude colorblocking that were more Vogue than Playboy, her previous modeling gig.
RELATED STORY: Swim Business Buoyant in Miami >>
There was no shortage of lavish shows and parties at haute hotels and stores. La Perla North America’s chief executive officer, Suzy Biszantz, and creative director, Giovanni Bianchi, hosted a soiree at Soho Beach House on Sunday to celebrate the permanent Bal Harbour boutique’s opening and 2013 collection with Baroque prints, classic laces and contrast smock stitching.
Tapping into the philanthropic movement, Trina Turk and Calavera, known for budge-free bathing suits, teamed up with Style Saves and Surfrider Foundation, respectively, at Soho Beach House.
On Monday, the cachaca flowed to the samba beat at the new SLS Hotel South Beach during the Brazilian Association of Fashion Designers’ (ABEST) launch of +Beach Brasil, a showcase of 17 swim brands such as Ank, Poko Pano, Vix and Jo de Mer. Earlier in the week, multibrand company Trimera invited Lil Jon and Pitbull in the spirit of Oakley’s young demographic for its 2013 runway show at the property’s cozy Hyde Beach.
The mood was more elegant over at The Webster, which was busy nonstop with brunches and cocktails for Clarins, Mercedes-Benz’s accessory designer Mary-Kate Steinmiller and Tori Praver, whose informally modeled 2013 looks preceded an intimate private dinner on Saturday.
Demonstrating swim week’s rising influence, Tory Burch took its inaugural dip with a cocktail preview at the Delano.
“The company recently expanded the swim collection with reversible prints, Brazilian cuts and surf shirts, so we felt it was the right time to show in a more impactful way,” said a spokeswoman for the house.
Swim ’n Sport has broadened its strokes. In the last 18 months, the Miami-based women’s specialty chain has opened or remodeled eight stores, including sites in Boston, Chicago and Florida, with a more upscale prototype featuring mosaic tile walls of green glass, backlit display cabinets and marine-colored metal checkouts and mirror frames.
“The redesign builds on our [clean] presentation and consumer-friendly amenities, such as adding larger dressing rooms,” said president Mark Sidle, who plans the same treatment for 10 more new and existing locations by January, among the fleet’s 36 stores in 14 states. “We’re most excited about going into Mall of America and Town Center at Boca Raton.”
Cover-ups keep coming as ready-to-wear and swim collections tap into this key category.
“Cover-ups were a strong part of the business, particularly those that focused on a sportswear feel,” according to Paulette Thompson, market analyst for swimwear at the Doneger Group. “This will be the continued emphasis of cover-ups for next year. In addition, promotional strategies, which focused on later timing of breaking price, did work and is a part of the forward thinking.
KAS New York unveiled KAS Cruise, a year-round collection of 50 cover-ups in silk, cotton and cotton voile wholesaling from $58 to $198 for 2013, at the Salon Allure trade show in Miami.
“Resort continued to get stronger to the point we couldn’t keep up with demand for that delivery. Also, our warm climate stores didn’t care to see plaids, wools and leathers,” said chief executive officer and designer Kirat Anand.
Carried by 300 accounts worldwide, Australian caftan player Camilla dips into diffusion for summer 2013 with Camilla’s Beach House. Retail prices of $119 to $299 are half that of the main collection. Travel-friendly, washable cotton blends, viscose crepes and Modals come in rompers, maxidresses and tailored shorts.
Kai Lani, a Miami-based women’s swim line cofounded by Mermaids swim boutique owner Jessica Corry, also expands into cover-ups for 2013. Prints like an abstract leopard in sherbet shades work with suits. Styles include cinched shorts for $88 retail, a wispy minidress with tie straps and sides for $136 and silk pareos for $88.
“Buyers have been responding to pareos most, because not many designers make them, and they look new again,” said Corry, whose SwimShow booth received interest from Nordstrom, Free People and Caribbean resorts.