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SAF SwimShow hits a milestone in Florida

Jun '12
Swimwear Association of Florida's (SAF) SwimShow has good reason to celebrate come July, when the category's largest global market turns 30 years old. As one of Florida's most attended, press-worthy events, the annual trade show at the Miami Beach Convention Center draws thousands of industry insiders including retailers, vendors and media from around the world. But this year truly solidifies its importance in revolutionizing the category, as well as in pioneering a unique one-stop shop for attendees to view trends, network and place orders with new and existing accounts and vendors.

"Something I admire most about SAF and SwimShow is that we have remained true to our mission from the day we launched at the Miami Mart three decades ago. Our initial slogan Swimwear Begins in Miami is still true since we host the most important global swimwear trade show at the beginning of the season. We provide the setting for the largest amount of retailers, manufacturers and other industry representatives to meet annually under one roof. Our fashion show allows every attendee to view trends presented by the entire swimwear industry. I've been proud of my association all these years especially in how we change with the times as necessary while staying true to our focus,” says SAF president Diane Brucks.

It's an industry that not only weathered the financial crisis but grew an amazing 11% during a worldwide decrease in spending. According to market research firm NPD Group, Americans spent over $4.1 billion on swimwear last year, a stark contrast to $845 million in 1990 (Source: Chicago Tribune, Jan 13, 1992).

Meanwhile, another recent NPD survey revealed the average woman owns at least four swimsuits and purchases at least two new looks every season. These are the kind of sales figures that are driving an increasing number of manufacturers to dive into the swimwear pool.

"SwimShow's success has played a vital role in the explosion of the swimwear business in the U.S. and abroad, exemplifying how a small ripple can become a huge wave,” says SAF executive director Judy Stein. "In 1982 60 percent of the swimwear industry was comprised of traveling sales and brand representatives scattered around Florida, with or without showrooms at the Miami Mart. It was a niche coterie with a common challenge that resulted in a revolutionary idea.”

A handful of sales representatives conceived an annual event that centralized players from all aspects of the category. The inaugural show featured 15 representatives with 30 collections.

Based on the premiere's success, SAF and a board of directors were established to grow the event. By its fifth year, SwimShow had earned its place as the category's top market destination globally when established brands such as Norma Kamali, Gottex, Gideon Oberson, Jantzen and Anne Cole signed on as vendors. Throughout the following decades, the show expanded into cover-ups, beach accessories, resortwear, activewear and lingerie. SAF attributes evolution to success.

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