Most Innovative Meetings 2017: #15 SwimMiami

The fashion trade event expanded its reach and added hands-on components.

By Martha C. White October 31, 2017, 5:46 AM EDT

High-energy fitness classes made the event’s brand extension into activewear tangible.

Photo: Courtesy of SwimMiami

As part of Miami Swim Week, SwimMiami and its concurrent trade show, Hammock, draw hundreds of buyers to the W Hotel on South Beach every July. This year, the event’s swimwear footprint expanded to include activewear for the first time. Adding a new category to an established trade event can leave buyers confused, so integrating the activewear designers took a deft touch.

Production company SBI made the addition feel like a natural outgrowth of the event’s traditional swimwear focus by introducing it in the context of a broader wellness platform called “Swim to Gym,” a multifaceted activation that included fitness classes, healthy beverage sponsors, and pampering beauty treatments.

“I really wanted to add this Swim to Gym feature because I started seeing a cohesion between swim and athleisure,” said Ashleigh Powers, assistant producer at SBI, which produces SwimMiami.

To play up the similarities between the two categories, Powers created an interactive platform that focused on wellness, an element that linked the ideas of fashion, fitness, beauty, and self-care. The idea, she said, was to emphasize SwimMiami’s new inclusivity—that it was as much about rushing out the door in yoga pants and a ponytail as it was glammed-up runway models posing in bikinis. “It’s sort of this seamless thing,” she said.

Swim to Gym included a series of fitness classes led by celebrity trainers such as Katie Austin, as well as trendy barre and surfing- and yoga-inspired workouts, that drew an average of 40 attendees each. The high-energy classes ran during the daytime for two days of the show, giving attendees a chance to shop the newly added activewear collections by trying them out rather than just viewing them on rolling racks.

“I thought that would be a great inclusion for designers,” Powers said. “The designers were really open to having people wear their pieces.”

In addition, beauty-services app Priv sponsored a pop-up beauty bar where attendees had the chance to get pampered with treatments like a mini-mani or a quick braid or blowout, and attendees could sample healthy drinks from sponsors.

“It was more of the lifestyle of it,” Powers said. “It gave buyers a way to interact more with the brands.”

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