“Welcome to Miami”. In 1997, Will Smith put this city of neon and azure on the global pop culture map. Launched a year later, Miami Fashion Week has been “getting jiggy with it” ever since. In recent years it has become the hottest international platform for swimwear and resort style apparel. Given its strategic geopolitical location, Miami positions itself as a gateway between the North American market and Latin American and Caribbean designers on the cusp of going global. This season basked in special media spotlight thanks to Antonio Banderas, its Honorary President. The world is experiencing a Banderas Renaissance. He arrived in Florida from the Cannes Film Festival where he had won Best Actor prize at for Pain & Glory, the latest Almodovar film. Banderas is also the menswear ambassador for the Spanish premium retail giant El Corte Inglés. His trademark style, passion and wit brought the attendees’ excitement to a whole next level.
In all seriousness, Latin American designers approach Miami Fashion Week as an opportunity to reach American audiences and governments and chambers of commerce see a chance at fashion diplomacy here. Case in point is Colombia. Two emergent designers took Miami runways by storm: Glory Ang from the coastal Cartagena and Daniella Batlle from Barranquilla, a city famous for its Carnaval. Both anticipated shows featured an explosion of tropical flora in key summer colors.
Colombia is the world’s leading exporter of flowers thanks to its everlasting spring climate and seemingly endless varieties of tropical blossoms. It is no wonder Colombian fashion lovers and designers cannot get enough of flowers. Miami is a perfect place to showcase that devotion. Flowers also play an important role in its cultures, both indigenous and of Spanish heritage.
In fact, Glory Ang finds the historical mix particularly fascinating. “I love the colors and textiles, the passion of my people along with traditional Andalusian and Spanish garment design elements,” comments the designer. Just within the last year her sales took the brand from a single brick and mortar storefront to prominent e-commerce platforms.
“It is a very exciting time to represent Colombia!” Daniella Batlle echoes the sentiment. “I believe it’s the ideal time to be daring and to try to reinvent the relation fashion has with people. Colombian style is bold and it’s about having faith in yourself and trying to show the world what you’ve got in new ways.”
Batlle has been a fashion journalist and a fashion professor before capitalizing on her experience and talent to launch her brand in 2014. Building a business in emerging markets comes with a set of logistical challenges. Luckily, Colombian fashion has exceptionally strong outreach and engagement with their diaspora.
“Last year, international sales exceeded $930 million with the United States, Ecuador and Mexico having a share of almost 60%,” noted Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, a Colombian government entity that promotes international tourism, foreign investment, and non-traditional exports.
In addition to colorful runways at the iconic Ice Palace Film Studios, fantastic parties throughout town and charitable galas, industry insiders flocked to Miami Fashion Summit. With speakers such as Stefan Siege, CEO of Not Just A Lable, and Neliana Fuen Mayor, Founding Director of A Transparent Company, retail innovation and sustainability were big topics of discussion at the panels, and even at the beach… Like every major world class resort, Miami never sleeps and during Miami Fashion Week it does not stop dreaming big, in English and Spanish.