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Black tape and sparkles: Miami Swim Week attempts to distract amid diversity criticism

By Rachel Douglass


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The Blonds swimwear SS24, Miami Swim Week. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Miami Swim Week has come to a close, and with it has the event’s surrounding controversy that dictated discussions on social media over its duration. Spanning July 4 to 12, around 50 industry and public events were held; some by distinguished labels like Desigual and Nike, others by more emerging names.

While the schedule seemed vast in its size, the swim week was not able to curb criticism from the general public, as heated debates on its existence came into play and heightened as the week progressed. Online, social media users expressed their dissatisfaction in the diversity of models, some stating that all the models looked the same, while others questioned why swim week needed to be held at all.

One user said: “I’m confused. Wasn’t Victoria’s Secret’s runway shows cancelled because of the unobtainable body shapes among models? How come this fashion show can take place? Can’t understand the fashion world.”

Matte Collections SS24, Miami Swim Week. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Concern and backlash was further emphasised following the raunchy show of ‘The Black Tape Project’. The collection consisted of duct tape bikinis pasted onto models in skimpy shapes, a concept developed by Joel Alvarez. While the controversial project has been around since 2018, it had most recently been exhibited at the previous New York Fashion Week in February, after which Alvarez declared it was to be his “final” show.

However, evidently the concept returned to Miami Swim Week, with the proclamation actually made in regards to Alvarez’s name change, as he revealed that he now goes by Drakhan Blackhart. Alongside his identity refresh, the designer’s looks have seemingly ramped up the ‘sex-appeal’, with increasingly minuscule designs defining the project’s line for SS24.

Black Tape Project SS24, Miami Swim Week. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

It would be unfair to generalise the event as undiverse in its entirety, when many of the brands on the schedule had clearly put this value to the forefront. This was something that also translated into their presentations, as seen at Lovechella Swimwear, Michael Costello and Curve Collective, where models’ appearances varied greatly.

Next to this, Miami Swim Week also helped to define what to expect from swimwear in the coming seasons. FashionUnited highlighted some of the standout trends from the week.


SS24 Miami Swim Week. (From left) Diva Couture, Cirone Swim and Pink Melon Swimwear. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

The topic of diversity has also heightened in recent months partially due to the release of Disney’s reimagining of The Little Mermaid, for which Black actress Halle Bailey was assigned the leading role of Ariel. However, while keyboard warriors continue to debate whether Bailey was the right choice for the children's film, it is clear that its influence has gone beyond the big screen alone, making its way into a slew of swimwear collections for the coming season. Amid theatrical displays of men wielding golden tridents, models strutted down runways in eye-catching two pieces, complete with shell or coral shaped bikini tops bejeweled with excessive sparkles.

Beach cowboys

SS24 Miami Swim Week. (From left) Lain Snow, Axil Swim and Liliana Montoya. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Like its streetwear counterparts, Miami Swim Week saw an influx of the wild west take to the runways, as models, both children and adults, donned snazzy iterations of rodeo-wear. As seen in the attendees of fashion weeks and Pitti Uomo, it seems cowboys are at the height of fashion right now, influencing collections in a not-so-subtle way. For swim week, this was evident in the use of over-the-top western boots and elevated cowboy hats, as well as more subtle details like fringing or tassels.

The 80s are calling

SS24 Miami Swim Week. (From left) The Blonds, One One and Sense of G. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

While taking cues from eras past is nothing new in the world of fashion, the presence of the retro 80s could not be missed this swim week. Among skating models, neon legwarmers and graphic prints, the “power dressing” decade was a definitive source of inspiration for swimwear brands and their SS24 collections. Its prominence also reflected our current period of time as, akin to the 80s, current consumers are continuing to ascend into a fitness craze, a behaviour that had also influenced the rise of stylish gym wear back in the “decade of decadence”.

Lingerie as swimwear

SS24 Miami Swim Week. (From left) Beach Bunny, Curve Collective and Lovechella Swimwear. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

While swimwear is undoubtedly a strong market at the moment (according to analyst ResearchandMarkets.com, the sector is forecast to grow to 28.84 billion dollars in 2027), lingerie is still a category that cannot be ignored. In fact, a report by Kantar stated that lingerie accounted for 12 percent of a woman's spending, compared to the 1.6 percent bathing suits contribute. Therefore, it is no surprise that underwear was an eminent factor for many swimwear brands that chose to exhibit both categories alongside each other for their Miami shows.

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Pregnancy bumps as an accessory

SS24 Miami Swim Week. (From left) Club L London, Natasha Tonic and Liliana Montoya. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

For some, the event was an opportunity to either announce their pregnancy or further reiterate that they were in fact pregnant. While models Chanel Iman, Blanca Aljibes and Jena Sims showed off their bumps on the runway, WWE champion Carmella was another to put her pregnancy in the spotlight. The presence of such models helped Miami Swim Week to further distance itself from the backlash spurred on by other shows, presenting a more inclusive take on swimwear and the types of bodies it can tend to.

Sparkle and shine

SS24 Miami Swim Week. (From left) Michael Costello x Revolve, Sinesia Karol and OMG Swimwear. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

Metallics were a popular choice for swimsuit materials this year. Whether iridescent, sparkley or in a classic shine, the effect could be seen in almost every collection that graced the runway. While silver appeared to be the most popular in the way of colour, iterations could also be seen in a vast array of different tones, each one just as futuristic as the rest. Many of the looks came in the form of two-pieces, however bathing suits were also popular; some with cut-out details, others providing more coverage.

Miami Swim Week