So there we are, boarding a plane to Miami. It's a funny thing when you normally fly Hawaiian Airlines, you get a little spoiled with their impeccable timing. So there we are on a non-Hawaiian Airlines flight, just sitting on the runway. For about an hour. Someone woke up from their nap thinking we had just landed in Miami. No, still in New York.
But eventually we made it. To Miami. And eventually our Lyft driver found us and we were on our last leg of the day, driving into South Beach.
Travel is so tiresome. Everything takes hella long, you become dehydrated, the air is bad, your body clock is off... blah. But as we drove into Miami we were brought back to life by the neon lights, the smell of salty air and cologne and throngs of people dressed like an episode of Jersey Shore. The reality that we were in a new and exciting place began to set in.
We continued our theme of nature inspired resorts with a fantastic room overlooking Collins Avenue at 1 Hotel South Beach.
How can I describe just how welcoming this place is? Softened lighting and a lovely earthy essence welcomed us every time we returned to our little haven amidst the madness.
To walk into the lobby is like returning home--if your home is an environmentally conscious spa retreat with hipsters working the front door. But on a Friday night in Miami? This lobby had been transformed with a live latin band and we were even more enlivened by the music filling the warm Miami night.
So we joined a few gals for drinks, and got to finally meet in person Rebekah Steen, who is just as delightful and glowing in person as she is online. Our taste of the nightlife was short lived, however, as we prepared ourselves for the bustling buying session that was awaiting us the next day.
So within hours of our last long island the night before, we were up and off we went to CABANA!
Cabana is one of a couple events held during Miami Swim Week. It features a tradeshow style showroom floor where a lot of brands gather to feature their products to retailers and other select individuals. You can find here those epic, highly popular brands as well as up-and-coming. It's a great chance to get up in there with the new goodies.
Cabana keeps its ticket holders hydrated and nourished with delicacy booths including a Kopari coconut stand with fresh coconuts sliced before our eyes. Also something called a F-Rozé, which was an iced blended champagne and lilikoi liqueur. Actually now that I mention it, there seemed to be a steady flow champagne all over the place.
Everyone in attendance were dressed their Miami-best and the people watching is fabulous at these things. Getting to mesh with other retailers and brands from across the globe was really fabulous and even more amazing was how many Hawaii people we would just bump into.
So we dove right in, meeting with our tried and true designers as well as exciting new brands. We ooh-ed, we awe-ed, we felt all the textiles, we took notes of all the new trends and the bold choices. You can definitely look forward to a play on fabrics beyond the standard lycra: lots of ribbed fabrics, shimmering fabrics and lace layers in daring silhouettes with high cut hips, broad plunging necklines, and playful crop tops, tops that tie in the center, and some hardware pieces we couldn't figure out ourselves.
And I have to say, I felt like we had the best buying crew around. The four of us came in with such enthusiasm and appreciation; we approached everything with a fun attitude and each of us brought our own unique perspective. We got so many comments about what a fantastic girl group we had. But in the end, we were there to represent our customers, so of course, we showed up our awesome-est.
And really, I absolutely cannot wait for everyone to see and scoop up all the goodies we've picked out for you!
Although we spent most of our time on the tradeshow floor, we did manage to escape to enjoy some pretty incredible meals at authentic latin and Italian eateries, one very-late-night cookie spot and a taco-truck night club.
We also found our way to little Havana where we devoured specialty mojitos at Old's Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina.
Afterwards, we walked through this old rustic town with a cigar shop on every corner as well as more chicken statues than I've ever seen in my life.
The other side of swim week is the fashion shows. I feel this needs it's own blog post, but let me just sum it up quickly for you: influencers, husbands taking pictures of wives, statuesque models, goody bags and one woman who got kicked out and threw a reality TV worthy tantrum outside a show tent. Just amazing.
But much to our dismay, and contrary to how many suits I actually packed, we simply could not make it to the pool before it closed. It became clear early on that despite it being Swim Week that there would be no swimming. However, we were successful once in escaping to the beach (and you bet your ass I wore my Acacia Fashion Show gift bag 2018 Resort pareo). We bumped into Naomi, the designer of Acacia Swimwear, and her adorable family. We also got to hear Naomi speak at the Swim Industry Talks, along with swimwear leaders from Maaji, Seafolly and Beach Bunny Swimwear. In addition to a killer brunch layout, we got to hear these women discuss the transforming swim industry into active, lifestyle appropriate garments and eco-responsible business choices.
At one point in the brunch, a male (interrupted me and) asked if there was a common thread that customers desire in their swimwear that crossed brands and seasons and trends. And I wanted so badly to shout out my own personal answer, that women want to be COMFORTABLE. I can't for the life of me remember the responses. Because my brain was busy being proud to be working with a company that recognizes this and makes it's customer's comfort and confidence a priority. Because we are women and we its important to us.
But also in that moment, I had a greater, larger, more important realization...
See, I went to Miami a little nervous, honestly. My self-esteem has been a little blah, I'm not the most fashionable woman and I really dislike overly egotistical people, which is what I expected to come across. And while those types of people were there, for the most part, it was an enlightening experience. One that reminded me and confirmed for me that the swimwear industry is something more than retail. I realized that all of these thousands of people were not there to prove something; not to be prettier, fashionable, or cooler. Rather, we, the bloggers, the buyers, the designers, the sales reps, the influencers, the instagram-husbands... we were all there for the empowerment of women through fashion. Sounds crazy, right? But it always comes back to the freedom for a woman to wear what she wants, to take care of herself, to express herself through personal style and to nourish her body with products that are good for her and the environment. No matter her shape, size, color, hometown or hobbies. From amazing supermodels to frumpy gals like me.
And that moment really summed up the trip for me. So after 4 days, we returned home to our families with an extra suitcase filled with 50 pounds of catalogs, notebooks, samples and Miami memories.
We loved so many things. So many little things, the details of the place that accumulate to make Miami, Miami. The Art Deco inspired buildings, the neon lights, the neon fabrics paired with fishnet body suits, the sports cars with out-of-state license plates, the instagram husbands, the street art and the mojitos. Miami was good to us. And our families were even better to us for supporting us and allowing us that time and space to explore this new world and to commit ourselves to this work. We hope we did our customers good.
This was part three, stay tuned because I'm not done yet!