After decades of ignorance, the fashion industry is at last coming to terms with sustainable practices as a must rather than a suggestion. During New York Fashion Week last February, we heard 18-year-old climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez soundtrack the Collina Strada runway with a moving talk about the importance of sustainability. Later in the week, everyone from Rachel Comey to Bode to Chromat placed sustainability at the forefront of their collections. But even with the recent growth we've seen, there's still a long way to go. Case in point: swimwear. Ironically enough, the one clothing item designed solely to be worn in and out of the ocean is the one that's hurting it most. But change is finally in the water.
In Miami, home of the swimwear industry and Miami Swim Week, the need for sustainable practices is dire. According to a New York Times article, "if emissions continue to grow and sea levels respond moderately, by 2100 about 10 percent of the city of Miami will be below the height of a once-a-year coastal flood." Fortunately for Miami (and the rest of the planet), some business-savvy locals are working on a solution.
Introducing Nu Wave Swim, the newest name at Miami Swim Week. Created by Seth Browarnik, founder of social photo agency World Red Eye, and Michele Addison, Nu Wave is a sustainability-friendly showcase for both up-and-coming and internationally-known swimwear brands. To announce their entrance into the annual swim-focused event, Nu Wave hosted a selection of wellness activations, runway shows, fashion presentations, cocktail parties and more at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. One that stood out most? Amahlia Stevens' thoughtful presentation for swimwear label, Vitamin A.
At a panel put on by Nu Wave, Stevens explained how she was able to put sustainability first in a time and in an industry where it simply did not exist. After working alongside Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard and seeing what he had created using just recycled plastic bottles, she sought something similar in the swimsuit industry — and what she couldn't find, she fought to create. As a result, her 2020 collection contained a handful of environmental feats, from models wearing "Sustainability Is Sexy" t-shirts on the runway to 100% plant-based swimsuits.
On the other hand, Rod Beattie of Bleu Rod Beattie used the panel to express his regret for not embracing sustainability earlier. "Sustainability is something that our entire business has to look at. We're leaving a terrible environmental footprint on the world." Beattie went on to explain the struggles he's encountered with finding materials to replace the very not-so-sustainable ones he's always worked with.
But Nu Wave's done more than just get people in the same room. To establish its position in aiding ocean preservation, Nu Wave Swim implemented a plastic-free initiative during the four-day event and "is donating a portion of the proceeds [from Miami Swim Week] to South Florida environmental group, Miami Waterkeeper, in order to advocate for swimmable, drinkable and fishable water for all," a press release states.