Sunday, July 15, 2007

SWIMMING Splashes Down In Miami Beach

A Tradeshow Review of the Swimwear Association Of Florida-Spring/Summer 2008

Text and Photos by J. Ecochard

For an arguably seasonal item of clothing –there are surprisingly gazillions of vendors at this annual tradeshow ...hawking dizzying numbers of collections that beg for year round sales. Touted as the largest tradeshow for swimwear in the world, this epicenter of all things swimming showcases domestic and international lines of men, women, and children’s- performance gear, cover-ups and naturally, swimsuits.
In fact some precious pieces are so elaborately embroidered, beaded and bejeweled that the jet set aura of Beverly Hills/Riviera/St.Barts pool culture has deliciously broadened its reach. ‘Wearing’ perma tans, Barbie Doll or sleek coiffeurs, dazzling high strappy heels and major bling along with the swimsuits- are now the norm...and adorn bodies as day-to-evening wear.

What’s Old News

The 2008 cruise and spring lines gushed creative designs in rainbow colors and prints, high quality fabrics and flattering cuts. There are differences from 2007’s show- however. Losing steam from last year’s musts is this year’s limited use of crocheted styles…with appearances at mostly youth oriented brands. At XoXo … “the magazines just zeroed in on this look…especially the white crocheted cut-out waistbands against the skin,” says a busy sales spokeswoman. In demand editorial labels, Anna Kosturova multi-hued crocheted bikinis and a Le Doux crocheted ivory bikini - also channel the sexy bohemian vibe..

Also missing are gingham/plaid fabrics and the rampant nautical inspired looks from 2007. There are fewer girly, frilly looks too, the exception being Betsey Johnson’s collection, and the ruffled necklines and waist bands decorating the retro swim pieces at Skinny Dip, the drop dead elegant white maillots of Kymare, and the vintage sweet cherry print fabric used by BIG name brand Jessica Simpson. Sixties prints seem largely limited to splashy florals, or the always-chic luxe paisley prints of high-end Italian line Etro . But Audrey Hepburn (always chic) inspired a line of graphics in 2007- by Barcelona label Jordi Labanda . That's still selling well.

Notably, children’s goods, like their elders' garb, are more polished-though logos splattered on Havaianas’ Warner Bros. line and licensed Hello Kitty swimsuits continue to sell. Japanese favorite Barcode Kitties have yet to make a debut.

Going Strong

Other trend highlights continuing from last season’s are separates like tankinis, skirtinis and mix and match swim sets. “The American markets demands we sell tops and bottoms separately, “ says Nicolas Fourchet, a spokesperson for Monaco based Banana Moon -a mammoth European sophisticated junior sporty line that is taking a dive in the USA markets. Other popular 21st century looks that hark back to the 70’s and 80’s- are the revealing looks of sexy monokinis. Additionally, the increasing importance of cover-ups and hoodies as a percentage of sales, and profits, rules. Says Marcia Hacker of Sauipe Swimwear - a Hot Hot Hot Brazilian line-“we upped the line this year with complete looks” which included graphic tropical floral and fauna printed tops with matching drawstring bottoms, and revealing monokinis with cut-outs and metal O ring details, wrapped by sarongs in deliciously silky feel, fabrics.

Construction, fit and quality of fabrics are still clearly priorities as nearly everyone who could- strongly emphasized the fabrics, cuts and manufacturing processes that are NOT from/made in China.

Says Michael Monterio of At Swim, an upscale designer swimwear line, “ we are made in the USA…for better quality control.” In fact the At Swim by Alisa Trombley are “amazingly fitted” and feature a practical attached pouch for keys as well as lingerie inspired touches – another huge trend-like adjustable straps, removable pads and intricately seamed panels in maillots for tummy control. Carol Wior, purveyor of Slimsuit “the suit that takes an inch off” has so many intricately constructed elements in her Los Angeles, CA made line- that the swimwear seem spawned from architectural drawings. Wior says that her tummy control side panels “capture everything” while “the exact placement of straps and underwire…and bra cups not sewn to the elastic straps… allow for more stretch and better fits.” The line- in deep, rich solid colors like tomato red, jade green, aqua blue, black and white combos and her leopard prints with polished gathered and twisted details- draws accolades from celebs like Oprah and Mrs. America contestants. Her daughter Niki Wior’s Slim a Size line, features more youthful polka dot prints and higher leg and lower arm cuts for- a curvy younger woman.

Aerin Rose, known for her bra-like separates and Profile, also offers up fashion forward but less revealing swimwear in classic solids as well as fun, contemporary prints for the growing misses category. And retailer favorite Becca is also conscious of top support needs (for natural or implant reasons)…as she cuts wide band halter tops.

Gottex and Canada’s Christina bathing suits have a reputation for outstanding fit; they are one of the first to use a high percentage of trademarked Lycra in their fabric mix. The FantaSizer line composed of 52% Lycra- comes in colors of ocean blues, chocolate browns, solid black, and this year’s hot ethnic print fabrics. Other fabrics that help with fit and recovery use unique compositions of nylon/polyamide/elastane/spandex/microfibers...and are comfortable and durable. Name brands using the new textures include the stretchy metallic mesh woven fabrics in sparkling diamond flecked black and gold flecked brown tones- in XOXO’s sleek monokini, the shiny space age metallic blue, deep V neck maillot by Sauvage, surf proof, chlorine resistant materials from Body Glove's line of a comeback design of high waisted, belted suits and silver gray, cap sleeved, hoodie cover-ups, the high performance Micro Serge Twill fabric of wave riding board shorts by Beach Rays , and the sun protected swimsuits lines of Kristy J’s SPF/UPF 50+ adorable short sleeve paisley printed tops and matching solid boy shorts, and MaxOut UV Swimwear for newborns to children’s ages- in perky solids and graphic prints that kids love.

Saturated monotones, particularly shades of bright red, sunflower yellow, sea aqua or cobalt blue and espresso browns, and the posh elegance of black and white combinations are in nearly every collection. Again, women still like jet set worthy snake and animal prints in zebra strips and leopard spots as seen on the sophisticated ruched bra top and hipster by Diva by Rachel Pappo. What’s new is the lean towards more modern graphics designs. Best examples of this are the Mediterranean inspired geometrics seen at the sexy Cia Martima by Benny Rosset runway show at the Raleigh Hotel.

A perfect combination of cheeky whimsy on the part of the models and a colorful St. Tropez/Ibiza palette of sea blues livened up the offerings of flirty, skirted maillots, Brazilian style bikinis, python graphics and feather light cover-ups. Rock and roll, edgy prints are big for teen brand Hot Tuna . Plus, ethnic and jungle prints are everywhere…sourcing African, Pan Asian and South American origins. Some of the best examples are from the fabulous Peruvian line SABZ and Italy’s Miss Bikini . Florals are huge- a la Tahiti-in bright reds, sunny yellows, deep pinks and fresh lime greens. New accessories like the resurgence of wide brim hats and beach bags lined with sturdy printed canvas- complete a head to to ensemble.

Trims like metal O rings, chains and buckles in gold and silver- add a decorative modern edge-as in a black two piece from Brazilian line Opera . Big or small jewelry/brooch details also add interest…in natural materials of shell, mother of pearl, wooden beads or more glammy sequins and rhinestones.

Swimwear styles for females run the gamut....from revealing Brazilian (high leg, high waistband) and Californian bikinis (lower side sash ties or retro attachments on hips, more coverage on the bottom), to boy cut shorts and hipsters. Skirted suits, tainkini tops and numerous versions of halter tops, bandeaus and bra-like supportive and simple triangle tops, often with cute beaded or metal grommet details, monokinis with striking cut-outs and maillots-in various shapes and necklines-performance oriented or not-are also headed for store racks.

In other words…there’s a swimsuit out there for everyone…even if your dayjob is delivering packages- (DHL’s Lands’ End board shorts designed for Mercedes Benz/Miami’s Swimwear show).

Just make sure it’s in stock!


Backstage (at ANK) and on the tradefloor, Michael Kors Leg Shine - a deoderant style (comes in 3 colors) tanning stick, is a hit with designers and models...imparting a hint of glimmery/bronzy tint that "won't rub off on clothes."