Hot! That’s the best word to describe my weekend in Florida attending the Miami Swim Show in South Beach. Everything about the experience helped me to define this mega market; the half-naked people, pulsating street music, gorgeous white sand beaches, lush tropical greenery, color drenched architecture and bold, powerful swimwear that filled four convention rooms and many off site locations. Not to mention the invitation only runway shows that run throughout the evenings for 4 straight days. Compare that to the subtle sensuality that drives the Lingerie business and it can be hard to believe that there is a synthesis. But Intimate stores who have recognized this synergy are building volume and margin year round.
I had the privilege of shadowing, Jennifer Cermak, our Swim blogger; industry veteran and owner of the highly successful Nani Nalu located in Minnesota. For a first encounter with an unfamiliar market, there is nothing better than working with a pro. As swimwear continues to gain momentum with Intimate brands, it presents itself as a viable upside for many Lingerie Boutiques. I decided to immerse myself in this category so related to Lingerie and yet, so I learned, very different. The similarities: fit matters above all else, fabric technology and construction are critical for success and everything is about the female form. But the execution is very different; from dynamic visceral palettes, to a dearth of product destined for fuller bust women (F cups and up). While intimates are a woman’s wardrobe secret, swimwear is all about exposure. This simple reality makes all the difference. But the challenge of building feminine self-esteem crosses all boundaries.
I did not stay the full 4 days as work beckoned elsewhere. Jenn and her team are still there churning through the endless booths of potential and past performance winners. But it does not take too long to get the scent of a product. It was a great deal of fun to scope out a new market. There is design inspiration everywhere. Here are some highlights and I am sure Jennifer will share more detail in her bi-weekly Swim Briefs column.
“What Woman Doesn’t Want To Feel Comfortable In A Swimsuit? It’s Incredibly Empowering” ~Sara Rue