- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) - As if there were a shortage of bikinis at Miami Beach, Swim Week is in full swing and invading the city’s bustling streets with next year’s hottest swimwear must-haves.

The swimwear fashion and trade show, in its 11th year, is an array of dozens of shows of the industry’s most famous names. Established and upcoming designers from around the world attend the event known for its international reach. Buyers, stylists and the press flock to the runways scouting the latest swimwear trends.

Left without its major sponsor, IMG, Swim Week 2016 succeeded in bringing its classic air-conditioned white tents and filling them with over 30 name brands and emerging designers.

Despite a noticeable abundance of empty chairs on Friday, show-goers said they were wowed by the variety of designs.

At the San Lorenzo runway at the W Hotel, models walked holding Polynesian masks and other Bali-inspired props, their hair braided around colorful flowers.

Lauren Matina, a stylist from New York City, said the hair and props gave the show a “luxurious” edge and she noticed a trend in this year’s shows.

“It looks like active wear is moving into ready wear,” she said. “It’s sporty but very wearable, from the pool to the street.”

The brand’s main designer, Lisseth Figueroa, is a Peruvian based in Hawaii who traveled to Bali to prepare her new designs.

“It’s very inspired on Bali’s vegetation, nature and culture,” she said in Spanish backstage before the show.

Looking to appeal to costumer’s needs, Figueroa said this year’s designs offer varied options to the brand’s famous “short-cuts.”

“Many women now are looking for one piece swimsuits, but they can’t find one that will do the job and still look sexy,” she said.

Over at the Robb and Lulu runway at the Funkshion tent, Serafina buyer Jennifer Leathers, said most businesses tend to target younger audiences, so he was glad to see high-waisted bottoms make a comeback.

“You can still wear a tiny top, but you get a little more coverage on the bottom, just so you can feel comfortable being out there,” she said.

Backstage, Australian designers, Robert and Lulu Zagame, prepped for the show wearing their own designs. Robert, wearing all white and a Miami-appropriate guayabera, sported a colorful scarf tied around his neck. Lulu wore a light maxi dress with the same pattern. “We love to live life in color,” she said, calling their show a “wave of color and print.”

“This collection really is about getting back to art, so the standing point of the brand is hand-illustrated prints,” said Lulu.

She called the withdrawal of IMG and the show’s name sponsor, Mercedes Benz, “unexpected,” but said it provided smaller brands like theirs “an opportunity to shine.”

The event will continue until July 21.

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