A possible partnership with Chinese clothing designers is part of the vision for the growth of Miami Beach International Fashion Week, which for the first time could have a trade show attached to the program.
Sobol is also using the event to introduce their new company, Sobol-Perry Fashion Productions, which is currently working with officials from China to create a business partnership.
Sobol said the relationship with China has been nurtured over several years, with an interest in having some form of Fashion Week happening there and importing that country’s talent here.
“There is a lot of interest in building their fashion industry,” she said. “They have all the manufacturing in the world, but they don’t have design, which is something new to them.”
China isn’t the only new frontier. Sobol and Perry are looking at franchising to other international locations.
Sobol launched Miami Fashion Week in 1999 after a successful modeling career. During the next 12 years, it evolved into one of the world’s premier fashion events spotlighting designers from Europe, the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Middle East and Asia, as well as the largestshowcase of Latin American design talent in the U.S.
Last year, the event had nearly 60 international designers from 22 countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Lebanon. They unveiled their latest collections in women’s eveningwear, prêt-a-porter, swimwear, menswear, jewelry and accessories. Internationally known designer Julian Chang also participated.
Sobol and Perry want to build the local infrastructure to give designers who are brand names in their countries the ability to more easily operations on our shores. Some kind of manufacturing and distribution operation might also be in the works, Sobol said.
The move for local manufacturing would mark a departure from a decades-old trend of having clothing manufacturers relocate to cheaper operations outside the U.S.
“A lot of the designers we work with are small and they are looking for a different manufacturing strategy,” she said. “It will take a while and it has to make sense for everyone.”
Millions in economic impact
The Fashion Week events are expected to have an overall economic impact on Miami Beach of between $10 million and $12 million, event organizers said.
Perry said the money is generated through hotel stays, parties, business seminars and the trade show. He sees great business potential for fashion in Miami that could blossom like Art Basel. In the last few years, the international art event, held in Miami Beach, has spread to locations throughout Miami, including condominiums and upstart galleries. Art Basel has fed a growing interest in art and artists and food, specifically in the Wynwood neighborhood, which has seen restaurants and galleries proliferate in the last few years.
Dean Schwartz, president of Miami-based SOBO Concepts, which creates cutting-edge graphic design for clothing and which licenses international brands for sale through Surropa.com, says Fashion Week puts Miami on the fashion map.
“What I love about Miami Fashion Week is that it provides an opportunity for Latin American designers to showcase their creations on a global stage,” he said. “Although at Surropa.com, we’re focused more on graphic design, our end goal is to help promote Latin culture and style. Events of this nature help to elevate the region as a legitimate source for great design.”