White sand beaches, pulsing nightlife options and a vibrant culture are among the many reasons visitors are drawn to Miami as the weather warms up. Summertime beckons a wardrobe change as the region transforms into a mecca of bikini-clad guests with sun-kissed skin and beaming smiles. Every July, masses of people gather for an event devoted to the one summer essential: the swimsuit.
The annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim has found a home in Miami. The area’s chic ambience and energetic yet sophisticated vibe make Miami the quintessential host to the global swimwear industry’s biggest event of the year. Over a span of five days (July 17-21), the invitation-only schedule for swim week includes fashion shows and festivities, such as brunches, dinners, cocktail parties and consumer events. Each occasion brings industry professionals, the media and buyers together to showcase, critique and discover the latest swimwear styles for the coming season.
“Swim week is very significant to the swimwear industry,” says Miami-based designer Keva J. “… There are so many different brands and [this week] allows them to showcase their best collections under one roof. It’s a great way for buyers and press to also see what is new and fresh in the industry. … What better place to have swim week than right here in the bikini capital?”
A Day in the Life
Upon entering swim week, designers shuffle between event appearances, booking appointments and photo opportunities—in addition to their own runway shows. In between the excitement, they find time to savor the lifestyle by donning swimwear at casual events and for a well-deserved romp in the water.
“I love to wake up early in Miami and go for a run by the beach and then a swim before a work day,” says Naïla Chbib, the designer behind her eponymous line of swimwear for women, men and boys.
Miami’s ideal summer weather and magnificent beaches combine to offer the perfect setting for designers to relax at their leisure. Nicole Hanriot of the Newport Beach, Calif.-based swim brand Beach Riot says her ideal daytime scene in Miami is lounging beachside in her Beach Riot Disco Mermaid bikini sipping on a spicy cocktail. The marine colors and the intricate beadwork of the ensemble mirror Miami’s blue waters, creating a look that blends right into the coastal environment.
To complement the city’s charm, both Monica Wise, founder of L-Space swimwear and a past recipient of the Mercedes-Benz Designer of the Year Award, and Sue Di Chio, creative director of the Suboo brand, opt for understated suits that offer striking and energetic elements.
When selecting a suit to wear, Dolores Font Cortés, head designer of her namesake swimwear label, sticks to pieces that are flattering. Her preferred Miami style is a sophisticated suit with halter straps. “[It] stylizes the woman’s body and at the same time covers the parts we don’t like that much,” she explains.
Designers implement their own pieces into their swim week wardrobes to provide a glimpse into what others can expect during their presentations. Pooja Kharbanda, owner and designer of luxury apparel and swimwear brand 6 Shore Road, complements the label’s Bocas bikini top and bottoms with its Carnival cover-up in a kaleidoscopic floral design ideal for a summertime sojourn on the sand.
Focusing on other aspects of swimwear beyond the suit, fashion designer Mara Hoffman prefers pairing a printed dashiki as a cover-up with one of her brand’s V-wire bikinis, a bandeau top with a V-shaped wire in the middle. Lisa Vogel, creator of Luxe by Lisa Vogel, favors her brand’s Pandora Flutter bikini top and lounge pants in red. “[Both are] chic, modern and fun for summer in Miami Beach,” she says.
As swim week is a collective of designers from the world over, it’s only fitting that this year’s trends offer a taste of different parts of the globe. Vogel’s current Luxe collection was influenced by her passion for fine art and exotic travel. “… I was inspired by the juxtaposition of opulent old world Paris and the contemporary art scene today,” she says.
The collection’s styles were also fashioned with the fit as a top priority. As a mother of two, Vogel wanted to create pieces that would be ladylike and flattering. “You can see this with the use of delicate all-over laser cuts, clean graphic lines and tulle insets to slim the figure,” she adds.
Similar to Luxe, Montreal-based Aqua Di Lara features feminine details based on creative director Reyhan Sofraci’s tourism encounters. “The White Label collection will feature pieces one might find collected by a world traveler … from the beautiful English gardens [and] the Amazon to the intricacies of the Far East,” she explains. The Ella monokini, which is available in serene or lush colors, features a bold pattern that pairs best with silk dresses in the summer months.
Offering a youthful twist on the feminine trend, 6 Shore Road mixes soft accents with bright neon colors and prints. Suboo’s collection also integrates aspects from both trends into one piece.
“You can expect to see a more upmarket, sport luxe vibe in terms of shapes that are juxtaposed with feminine floral prints,” Di Chio says. “Gone is the standard swimsuit shape [of] boho and loose-flowing kaftan shapes. The trend now is sleek, matte, metallic and sporty.”
Beach Riot harnesses this idea with gold hardware details, beaded accents and laser cutout features. “With a throwback to 1990s street wear trends, Beach Riot’s summer collection adds hints of bling and inspiration from our favorite looks from the early 1990s from designers such as Gianni Versace and Christian Lacroix,” Hanriot says.
Aqua Di Lara’s second collection, the Black Label, is intended to be vibrant and edgy, catering to an eclectic clientele. “… The collection is comprised of wild futuristic color blocking with chains and twists and turns, encapsulating a 1990s flare,” Sofraci says. “More vibrant colors are coming in as well as one-pieces with more detailing in print and in accessorizing.”
The L-Space collection also features cutouts, paneling and bright colors, according to Wise. With many suits embellished with 19-karat gold-plated hardware, the collection reimagines swimwear today.
On the Horizon
While trends may shift from year to year, the same intricacy and innovation from designers continue to serve as a driving force in the industry. “[Next year’s] collection will be colorful with a strong attention to details and quality,” Chbib says of her luxury swimwear line. “There will be a lot of geometric prints, interesting cuts and suits with matching cover-ups in beautiful fuchsias, blues and lemon tones.”
A range of hues will be implemented down the line for the Dolores Cortés swimwear styles. “We are now in the height of the production process,” Cortés says. “… We are creating a collection full of color and vitality.”
Keva J’s new Moroccan Sunset collection also experiments with prints and trims. She says, “This line includes bikinis and signature cutouts, with bright bold prints and purple and orange hues, making it ideal to create looks that are effortlessly stylish.”
Whether it’s a reinvention of an old trend or the introduction of an entirely new concept, swimwear styles are sure to impress crowds this summer.
—Written by Rebecca Cahilly