MIAMI — Rather than bikinis and board shorts, Miami Swim Week 2018 will likely be remembered for its ubiquitous braid bars, ironic maple-and-bacon doughnuts, and model mayhem, from a breastfeeding mother on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s runway to social media protests about racist casting calls. It had the drama and camaraderie of summer camp or a tribal gathering, common comparisons used by attendees who travel from far-flung locales to catch up with friends and colleagues while doing business.
“Miami is the original destination and time for all brands. It’s important to be loyal and show up for something that paved the path,” said Mikoh swim cofounder Oleema Miller.
Centered on SwimShow, the main trade event at the Miami Beach Convention Center from July 14 to 17, the busy week also brought satellite shows Cabana and Hammock, and newcomers including Coterie Pop-Up, an interactive retail experience, and Paraiso Fashion Fair’s runway presentations and lifestyle activations.
The swim and resort category’s strength is reflected in buyers’ biggest news at market. Forget open-to-buys: They’re opening stores. Brands and retailers are bursting with e-commerce and brick-and-mortar. Brazil-based Cia.Maritima launched its first U.S. location at Aventura Mall in July, with a second slated for Town Center in Boca Raton, Fla., by fall. Marie France Van Damme’s 12th store bows at Wynn Plaza in Las Vegas in October. In addition to its retail project for Faena Bazaar here, Maris Collective will unveil a boutique at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and M, a collaboration with model Maggie Rizer in California. Clic, Christiane Celle’s specialty chain, takes over her former Calypso brand’s 3,600-square-foot space in Larkspur, Calif., this month.
“Marin County is a great demographic and doesn’t have a lot of good stores like Los Angeles,” she said, while writing orders for Lola Hats and Yvonne S. maxidresses in exclusive boho prints. “I need early delivery in October for my St. Barth’s store, which is a very different buy than my Hamptons location. The Hamptons is buttoned-up, while St. Barth’s likes sophisticated, sexy fashion — it can’t be just a pareo or bikini.”
Maris Collective buyer Samantha Hartman only wrote orders for her top collections. Unlike many retailers who couldn’t leave their stores for long, she had the leisure to prebook established accounts and discover new lines. Despite the overwhelming amount of product, Hartman was frustrated by the lack of rash guards — wishing every company offered them — and fuller bottoms.
“Most bottoms are cheeky, but my customers are families on vacation. Even young girls don’t want to wear thongs in front of their parents,” she said, citing Same Los Angeles as one of the few lines with both options.
Mikoh, which celebrated its 10th collection with a runway show in Paraiso’s main tent, has transitioned beyond skimpy bottoms as its founding sisters have aged. Social media exposure also factored into trending more modest.
“We have loyal women, some who are moms now, and their taste has grown up,” said Miller, adding their shopping channels have also changed. “We’re still carried at a bunch of the best retailers, but our direct-to-consumer sales have seen significant growth in every style.”
New York-based Skin’s e-commerce sales skyrocketed 600 percent from March 2017 to March 2018, while replenishment orders have tripled for direct-to-consumer and wholesale accounts, according to owner Susan Beischel. She said retailers wrote her swimwear and lingerie collections together, as swim week has evolved from its original niche to a lifestyle-driven assortment. A ballerina bodysuit with cropped leggings and spaghetti straps performed well.
“It’s a multi-purpose one-piece that can be worn to swim, exercise or go to dinner wrapped with a sarong,” she said.
Heidi Klum, who hosted Ocean Drive magazine’s 25th anniversary swim issue and showed her namesake collections for swimwear and intimates at Hammock, said she’s been using swimsuits and cover-ups as ready-to-wear for years, such as pairing a bikini top with a pantsuit at a recent pool party.
“I left the jacket open so you could really see the top. Similar to lingerie, the days where swimwear needs to be hidden are over,” she said, taking the same stance on resortwear. “No one needs to know that it’s really a cover-up and not a maxidress.”
Joyce Azria is also getting behind swimwear as an impulsive purchase steeped in excitement. Having designed swimwear for her father Max Azria’s BCBG and BCBGeneration, she introduced swim, resort and beach bags for her own Avec les Filles lifestyle brand through a license with The Levy Group. Pieces in her signature Millennial pink as well as eyelet lace, crochet and tie-dye prints retail from $50 to $150.
“This is my first solo act in swim, but it was a natural step,” said Azria, who created towels to complete the scene when customers document their travels on social media. “It’s a great category that plays a part in people’s memory box.”
In Mocean Group, a multibrand swimwear firm in New York, rebranded Cole of California, its historic line founded by swimwear designer Anne Cole’s father. Archive pieces were displayed in its SwimShow booth alongside new, retro-inspired suits retailing under $75. The Seventies dominated in allover lace and kitschy tropical prints and rainbow graphics.
“I look to vintage and the runway for inspiration,” said designer Stephanie Cohen, who oversees Anne Cole Studio too. “For Anne Cole Studio, a plunge one-piece with cap sleeves can be worn out as a top, and our signature maillot’s high leg is cut even higher this season.”
For her namesake collection, Robin Piccone incorporated blouse details like lapels, piping and subtle ruffles in a Deauville, France-inspired group, and rebooted tankinis with apron backs.
“They’re sweet pinafores with pretty backs,” said Piccone, of the challenging but necessary style. “Swimwear doesn’t have a lot of movement either, and the apron gives it that.”
After selling out of sunny yellow last year, she advanced the hue in Seventies’ mustard. Wide belts, calico prints and rickrack also conjure the past for a cohesive retro-Americana statement.
Coinciding with the start of hurricane season, market talk turned to what Mother Nature has in store. Buyers from the Caribbean and Florida Keys attended on behalf of local business regardless of tourism. Shawn Lunt, owner of Funky Monkey Lifestyle Wear on Grand Cayman Island, looked for affordable lines such as Banana Moon to serve residents.
“The population is growing, but I have to be careful about price points since Miami malls are only an hour flight away,” he said.
Susan Johnson, buyer for Islamorada Mercantile, a men’s and women’s store in the Upper Florida Keys, continues to struggle with decreased hotel inventory and staff as employees who lost their homes in Hurricane Irma moved away. Slow business meant she was able to attend Miami market for the first time.
“I mainly focused on holiday delivery, which is when the big resorts will reopen,” she said, writing Gretchen Scott, HiHo, Barbara Erickson and Oliphant.
Islamorada retailer Elizabeth Huddleston had to do double duty since purchasing Wild Lily, a popular, upscale boutique near her more casual Miss Monroe shop, from its longtime owner last year. She wrote Chan Luu, Red Carter and Hale Bob, along with versatile accessories that go with bathing suits and maxidresses.
“Miami is good for Latin American brands that you don’t see at other trade shows,” she said, of finding Kaanas shoes from Colombia. “I’m relying on second-home owners and locals now, but it will be amazing when the hotels are back this winter.”
Here, a look at the key trends at the Miami shows:
- Texture: Eyelet, smocking, crochet, lace, pleats, piqué
- Prints: Ditsy, calico, bold tropical, travel-related (medallion, tile, ethnic, tribal)
- Colors: Sorbet shades, autumnal tones, deep reds (ruby, cinnamon), bright yellow and mustard, greens (emerald to olive), plum
- Silhouettes: Spaghetti straps, high legs and waists, cap sleeves, off-the-shoulder tops with ruffles and sleeves that can be worn up or down
- Embellishment: Ruffles, lettuce edges, minimal hardware (grommets, barbells), tassels, fluttery fabric flags, nautical rope ties, rickrack, contrast stitching, corsetry laces, mesh accents