While New York traditionally takes the cake for the title of the American fashion capital, Miami’s balmy weather makes it a perfect place for aquatic fashion to take center stage, which happens annually during Miami Swim Week. Here is your rundown of a swimmingly exciting week for Miami and all the fashion world
If you couldn’t tell from the name, the “week” in “Miami Swim Week” consists of a series of fashion shows that display swimwear, coverups and other related accessories. Powerhouse brands like “POSTER GIRL“ and “Monday Swimwear” hold shows, as well as the legacy magazines “Ocean Drive” and “Sports Illustrated.”
This year’s Swim Week, which traditionally happens the first week of July, will be split up into two separate weeks. The first week, happening from June 8 to 11, is run by Paraiso, a lifestyle brand that has traditionally run their own Swim Week events. DC Swim Week, a company that runs a large portion of the Swim Week shows, will follow the traditional dates and hold their shows from July 5 to July 10.
DC Swim Week’s fashion shows will focus on diversity and sustainability in fashion this year.
“Miami Swim Week will be unlike anything the fashion industry has ever seen,” said Moe Ducis, the founder and CEO of DC Swim Week. “We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and promoting ethical and responsible fashion.”
“We have designers flying into Miami from over 70 countries who will be a part of 50 live fashion shows and pop-up events,” Ducis said.
As Miami grows in popularity both for tourists and new residents, Swim Week’s popularity is only set to grow more. Swim Week organizers are responding to the growing demand for events by expanding into the digital space.
This year, DC Swim Week will promote the launch of new Miami Swim Week exclusive non-fungible tokens and digital collectibles. They will also continue to provide a special Swim Week Metaverse experience, where online attendees can watch shows, attend events and shop from the latest collections all in cyberspace.
Keely Owen, a University of Miami sophomore who is signed to Select Model Management, said that Swim Week is like “New York Fashion Week for Miami.”
Despite its similarities to its New York counterpart, Miami Swim Week tends to be more inclusive than regular runway shows, which are notorious for mainly only using thinner, taller models. At a majority of Swim Week shows, models of all shapes, sizes and colors are represented.
“The [NYFW] walk is very different from a Swim Week walk,” said Owen. “Swim Week walks are more sexy and more fun.”
There’s a different energy that flows through the fashion shows at Swim Week. Because of the nature of the apparel displayed, the vibe is more playful.
While it can seem glamorous and fun from the outside, Owen said the behind-the-scenes reality can be very different.
“I’ve done shows before, but nothing like Swim Week,” Owen said. “It’s a very different ballgame.”
Last year, she participated in Ocean Drive’s fashion display for a coverup brand called Thrifts and Threads, which was less of a show and more of a “presentation,” in her words.
Though the show was her favorite gig of the week, the backstage process can be extremely hectic.
“Backstage is always crazy,” Owen said. “It’s a lot of running around and the brand owners are running around trying to make sure everything goes right.”
Besides the backstage dramas, model castings can also be especially chaotic. Castings are sessions in which a company will pick through a line of models to select the lineup they’ll use for their show. If a model is selected at a casting for the show, they’ll usually be called back for a fitting, and then must attend the actual show. Each event can last hours, depending on the organization level of the casting and how far along each brand is in their development process for the show.
“It’s not glamorous,” Owen said. “It’s a lot of hard work and hard hours.”
Another UM sophomore, Eliza Spain, a model signed to Ford Models, said that castings were “quite literally the longest days of [her] life,” as “hundreds and hundreds of girls would crowd a hotel lobby for hours on end to be seen by a client for 30 seconds.” On some days, Spain would only leave South Beach at around 1 a.m., and had to be up at 8 a.m. the next morning for more events.
Work & Play
Much like Art Basel, Swim Week involves lots of promotional events, known in the industry as “activations,” that companies will set up to spread the word about themselves. Often, these brands will recruit modeling agencies to bring in talent, or the models they have signed, to also help generate publicity for the event. Owen and Spain both attended a few of these events.
“I think that’s the best part of Swim Week,” Owen said. “It’s usually just gifting. You pick out a bikini and they gift it to you, and you get to bond with other models.”
At last year’s Alo Yoga event, the organizers gifted Owen and other models two pieces of clothing, among other goodies — as long as they got some promotion in return.
“You have to take photos and post them on your [Instagram] story,” Owen explained.
This year, both Spain and Owen are unsure whether they will participate in Swim Week again. Spain said that some of the negatives, like the below-average pay and long hours made her apprehensive about going through another year of castings and shows.
Despite the exhaustion, Spain had no regrets about her experience.
“Being behind the scenes of an event so well-known was a super cool experience,” Spain said.
For fashion enthusiasts or anyone looking to experience a unique, iconic Miami event, there are many ways to get involved in Swim Week. Tickets for admission into the fashion shows will be released as each brand settles on a date and time for their display and will be available online on miamiswimweek.net.
You can also opt to volunteer to help with shows for a more involved experience and top-notch networking opportunities. To volunteer, you can fill out the application on the Swim Week website and attend the required training session that typically happens a few weeks before the event.
words_virginia suardi. design_matt jiménez. photo_valeria barbaglio.
This article was published in Distraction’s Summer 2023 print issue.