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Miami Swim Was a Lesson in Why Fashion Weeks Need an Organizer

It's a good thing IMG plans to return next year.
Mara Hoffman's presentation at the Versace Mansion. Photo: BFA

Mara Hoffman's presentation at the Versace Mansion. Photo: BFA

Attendees and participants in the annual Miami Swim Week found themselves in a tough spot when title sponsor Mercedes-Benz pulled out of the event earlier this year, along with chief organizer IMG. And with multiple production companies putting on shows — and no overarching governing body — the event was unsurprisingly disjointed for 2015.

Even the dates were unclear: While Funkshion, a production company that put on a series of shows, kicked things off on Wednesday, the first official day was Thursday. Clover Canyon started its presentation 30 minutes late and ended 15 minutes early (reportedly due to lack of attendees). [Update: A rep for Clover Canyon tells us that while the show did end early, it was not due to attendance.] The 6 Shore Road by Pooja runway show was continually postponed as PR rearranged guests in the first three rows. On account of that half an hour ordeal, very few of those guests and photographers made it to the next show on the schedule, Mia Marcelle. The circumstances brought the words of Jeremy Sommers of the Australia-based swim brand We Are Handsome to mind: “I really think it’s going to be chaos.” It arguably was.

These sorts of problems continued through the weekend, as far-flung locations made it difficult to hop between shows. Most of the event was held in South Beach, grouped around the 1 Hotel and W South Beach, though a few were further north at The Edition and the Soho Beach House. “The biggest problem is that because everything is being done by different production companies and nothing is coordinated. When a show runs late — which they often do — IMG used to hold the start of the next show so you wouldn’t miss it. This year, if it was running late you either just had to leave early or know that you might miss the next one,” said Sabra Krock, the creative director of Everything But Water, the largest national retailer of swim and resort wear according to the company.

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A new event on the schedule, DIVE Preview, pulled guests off the beach entirely and into Wynwood, Miami's art district. Because of the distance, about two hours had to be blocked off round-trip for anyone who wanted to see, say, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominated brand Chromat’s Miami debut. “In the four years I have been attending, I’ve never been to an event that wasn’t on the beach,” said Miami-based blogger Ria Michelle.

Staff from that event indicated that DIVE is set to continue. Set up as a Miami-version of MADE Fashion Week (founder Tiffany Norman also works as a coordinator with MADE), the event will likely always be held off of the beach to give its presentations a different mood. Organizers are hoping that this unique vibe will draw attendees.

Proving that showgoers weren’t the only ones inconvenienced by IMG’s cancellation, Cassandra Kellogg of Minimale Animale told us that she had to completely rethink her plans. “It’s just so hard when you can’t visualize your space. I didn’t do a runway show because for what I was planning, I needed to know the dimensions of the venue and how long the runway is — this year it was really all thrown off.”

While on one hand the fragmented venues caused many headaches throughout Miami Swim Sweek, they were also, in a way, the event’s silver lining. Though it was less efficient to spread things out, Chromat’s presentation did seem to fit the more industrial backdrop of its SPACEBY3 location in Wynwood, while the Mara Hoffman tableau really packed a punch in the opulent Versace mansion. That creative license didn't quite make up for the inefficiency of events — which saw the Hoffman show begin about 45 minutes after its slated time slot, causing models from that show to miss any subsequent ones — but it made certain shows more visually memorable.

Those frustrated with how things turned out should rest easy, though. According to IMG staff familiar with the company’s plans, their teams will return to Miami next year for the event.