Miami likes to mix business with pleasure, and that makes for a packed calendar of fashion events.
According to organizers, the city's great weather and party atmosphere hook fashion week and trade show attendees, from front-row celebrities to Midwest retailers eager to hit the beach after a morning writing orders.
The Coast trade show, which hosted its triannual Miami event March 10 to 11 at The Savoy Hotel, this year introduced a fashion show with Laundry, Rebecca Taylor and Castle Starr, among others, according to Karen Bennett, Coast president.
"Our attendees come for the weather and vacation aspect, and they love the hotel setting," Bennett said. "They have said they don't want the show moving to a convention center."
Capped at 155 exhibitors, the roster included regulars like Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, Max Studio and Custo Barcelona, with 25 percent new vendors like Sea, Odd Molly and Charlotte Sparre Copenhagen. The next show is July 20 to 21.
March also brought Funkshion: Fashion Week Miami Beach, a biannual event wrapping up its fifth year and 10th season with 25 designers including fall 2008 collection premieres from Sweetface, Heatherette and William Rast.
"Financially, it makes more sense for these lines to show here because it's cheaper to fly in buyers and press than pay for a slot during New York's fashion week," said co-founder Sale Stojanovic.
Several events are planned for this month. Miami Fashion Week celebrates its 10th anniversary April 9 to 13, with nightly runway shows at Soho Studios, and instructional seminars held daily, in which legal and business experts offer designers information about establishing and conducting business. Founder Beth Sobol reports Latin American designers make up half of 2008's 60 participants. She works with government-sponsored trade commissions in countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well.
This year, collections hail from Australia and United Arab Emirates for the first time.
Material World Miami Beach and Technology Solutions also marks its 10th anniversary at the Miami Beach Convention Center April 8 to 10. President Tim Von Gal said attendance, primarily from the Americas, has grown 50 percent since its inception, and the glitzy locale has a lot to do with it.
"Miami is not only an international trading hub and the U.S. gateway to Latin America, but it has become a world-class destination for dining, nightlife and fashion trendspotting," said Von Gal.
Since the retail and financial outlook in Miami is challenging, some stores do depend on tourists from areas such as Canada and Europe to make up lost domestic dollars.
In March, the Census Bureau found Miami-Dade County's population grew less than 1 percent, and more South Florida residents left than arrived in 2006 to 2007 due to the high cost of living. Foreclosures - as of March, there were 24,000 pending foreclosures in Miami-Dade County according to South Florida Foreclosure Group - and job losses, particularly in housing sectors, have many retailers preparing for a lean 2008.
"There are a few insulated pockets like South Beach or Bal Harbour Shops, but we're going to see more stores of all varieties close here, and even foreign buyers can't replace U.S. sales for long," said Jack McCabe, founder of McCabe Research & Consulting, a real estate tracking firm in Deerfield Beach. "Sales tax collection for 2007 in the entire state of Florida was $2 billion less than expected."
But judging by the development of luxury, mixed-use properties and big-box centers, with independent boutiques and nationals' multiple stores in the same neighborhood, conditions aren't all gloom and doom. "Miami actually didn't build enough retail space for when all the residential units are up and occupied. It's traditionally been under retailed," said Michael Comras, principal of Miami Beach-based Comras Co., which specializes in retail leasing and development.
For its fifth annual Fresh Faces in Fashion, Gen Art Miami culls designers of women's and men's apparel, women's accessories and swimwear. New York-based lines Bensoni and Grace Sun join seven regional designers - Megan Huntz, Septimo, Nazly Villamizar, Shumaq, Malcolm Fontier, Fabiana Ferreira and August Alexander (men's wear) - for a runway show and exhibition at Miami Beach's Gansevoort South hotel April 12.
The Swimwear Association of Florida's SwimShow 2009, July 19 to 22, at Miami Beach Convention Center coincides with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim at The Raleigh hotel July 18 to 21. SwimShow executive director Judy Stein reports applicants grew from 70 to 250 vendors from 2007, due to the previous show's 25th anniversary buzz and a growing swim market. Stein expects 350 exhibitors showing 2,000 lines.
Fern Mallis, vice president of IMG Fashion, agrees her company's swim week belongs here. "The city ultimately speaks sun and beach," she said.
This year, the biannual Trafik trade show, which grows 25 percent each year in attendance according to show director James Costa, will move from August to late September. Official dates haven't been set.
"It just didn't make sense to be the same time as other domestic shows, so we decided to be last," he said, also planning to push the traditional February date to March in 2009.
Inspired by Art Basel Miami Beach, September's theme is Pop Art with primary colors, live installations and collaborations between artists and fashion companies. Sixty percent of its approximately 325 exhibitors are women's wear collections, with most buyers from the Southeast.
"But from the South, Chicago or California, everyone loves that you can just walk across the street to the show or the beach. It's so relaxed," said Costa.
Hot Spots To Meet And Eat
Miami is brimming with original, well-designed hotels and eateries.
According to the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, hotel occupancy and tourism for 2007 totaled 72 percent and 12 million visitors, respectively, up slightly from the previous year. New properties should keep crowds coming, even during hurricane season. Here are a few spots worth noting:
This is not your grandmother's Fontainebleau. Unveiling its $1 billion expansion and renovation this July, Fontainebleau Hotel & Resort Miami Beach offers 1,504 guest rooms, a revamped lagoon pool with luxury cabanas and a 40,000-square-foot spa. London's Hakkasan is among its 11 restaurants and nightclubs. Preservation purists can rest assured architect Morris Lapidus' circa 1954 "cheesehole" wall and staircase to nowhere remain.
4441 Collins Avenue; 305-538-2000; fontainebleau.com. Summer rates start at $189.
Gansevoort South's 334 rooms are decorated with charcoal gray suede walls, hot pink accents and retro pinup photographs. The adults-only playground has a 26,000-square-foot pool deck, shark tank and David Barton gym and spa. A Big Drop boutique, Philippe restaurant and Louis nightclub from The Opium Group round it out.
2377 Collins Avenue; 305-604-1000; gansevoortsouth.com. April rates begin at $595.
Shopaholics and fashion execs alike stay across the street from Bal Harbour Shops at The Regent Bal Harbour. Opened in March, the 18-story hotel's 124 rooms are accessed by semiprivate or private elevators. Its curved glass facade plays up the oceanside locale, while the spa is Guerlain's first in North America. Emphasizing seafood and local greens, 1 Bleu is the second Le Cordon Bleu restaurant partnership in North America.
10295 Collins Avenue; 305-866-2121; regenthotels.com/balharbour. April rates start at $750.
Badrutt's Place is the Brickell district's sexy spot with chic interiors to match fare like tapas, caviar and octopus carpaccio.
1250 South Miami Avenue; 305-415-0070; badrutts-place.com.
Popular for burger specials and pomegranate glazed duck with lentils, Brosia restaurant has a mosaic courtyard shaded by live oaks.
163 Northeast 39th Street; 305-572-1400; brosiamiami.com.
Daringly dine beneath 2,000 samurai swords is Kobe Club, where beef is the star.
404 Washington Avenue; 305-673-5370; chinagrillmgt.com.
Short and Sweet
For Sweetface's fall fashion show at The Setai in Miami Beach, attendees flaunted high heels, high hemlines and hot color.
They Are Wearing
Miami Vital Statistics
All figures refer to Miami-Dade County unless otherwise indicated.
Population: 2.4 million (2006)
City of Miami population: 404,000 (2006)
City of Miami Beach population: 87,000 (2006)
Demographics: 61.3 percent Hispanic; 20.2 percent African-American; 18.3 percent non-Hispanic white; 1.5 percent Asian; balance Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or other (2006)*
Civilian labor force: 1.2 million (January 2008)
Number of retail workers: 126,900 (January 2008)
Number of fashion industry employees (including fashion retail): 19,329 (2008)
Median household income: $45,328 (2007)
Median home price: $336,800 (January 2008)
Number of condos for sale: 25,000 (February 2008)
Number of condos under construction: 25,000 (to be completed between now and 2009)
Largest public companies, by revenues: Lennar Corp., Carnival Corp., World Fuel Service Corp., Ryder System, Royal Caribbean Cruises (2006)
Fashion companies based here: Perry Ellis International, TKO, Red Carter, We Love Colors, Eberjey, On Gossamer, Cosabella, Edward Beiner, Rose Taft, Sweet Pea by Stacy Frati, Tricia Fix, among others
Fashion companies with headquarters for their Latin-American operations here: Ferragamo, Hugo Boss, Swarovski, LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Richman Group
*Demographics may exceed 100 percent since some people check more than one box.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's official economic development partnership; McCabe Research & Consulting, a real estate tracking firm in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Caption(s): Trade shows and resorts like Gansevoort South draw throngs of trade show visitors to Miami each year.
Kleinman, Rebecca. "FULL SLATE OF FASHION, FUN." WWD (2008): 16. General OneFile. Web. 11 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A177924923
(Album / Profile) http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=5745&l=970be&id=1661531726