Just when you thought Miami could get any hotter, Miami Swim week brought this vibrant city to sweltering new heights. In the middle of all the action was the W South Beach, which was home to some of the season’s hottest shows including Badgley Mischka Swim and of course the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway show. In the enlightened age of body positivity, what set the SI runway show apart from other shows, was the fact that real life women could have a chance to walk the catwalk along with other SI swimsuit models through the open call casting which attracted over 5,000 hopefuls.
Here we had a chance to chat with the editor in chief of SI Swim, MJ Day, who has the enviable job of traveling around the world with some of the most genetically blessed supermodels on the planet to create the highly anticipated issue each year, and what the new definition of beauty is and what it takes to make it into the coveted Swimsuit issue.
What are some of the favorite places you’ve traveled to?
I love that question. Kenya is definitely is one of my favorite places, it’s just magical. I love Turkey and Croatia. There are some really great places in the United States, we did our all America story in national parks and Yellowstone, which are extraordinary, and you realize some of the most amazing places in the world are in our own backyard. We need to show a broad representation of different aesthetics and different experiences and places. It could be a Caribbean beach theme, and we also like to show a really hot destination or hotel that’s come on to the market and feature that as well.
How are you addressing the new body positivity movement and new face of beauty?
This is who we are and the fabric of what this brand is now standing for that is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of Sports Illustrated. We were doing it before everybody else was with Kate Upton and Ashley Graham.
We’ve evolved with the times which is exciting and a critically important time for women. In media we have such a responsibility to do something great, lead conversations that are for the betterment of women and for the enlightenment of everyone. It’s okay to feel about yourselves regardless of what a cookie cutter society tells you what you should look like. I love to advocate and amplify.
And would you be the first to have a transgender cover?
Absolutely. It’s about the person and the personality and like the story that they bring. When the right person presents themselves, it will be a part of this brand. I’m never looking to fill a bucket. I don’t care if they’re a transgender person or not, I don’t ask anybody their age or what their gender is, I don’t know what their size is, it’s about the person when I need them. So absolutely.
This was also the criteria we used in choosing our runway models from the open casting which was based on the person presenting themselves. If they resonate, are enthusiastic, professional, and appear to be someone that could be a great ambassador for the brand and the messaging that we put forth then they were selected.
And how has social media evolved the way you put the issue together?
Social media allows the brand to live 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And it allows us to be responsive, in the moment, and lets us evolve continuously throughout the year. Every girl that’s a part of the brand has such an incredible personality and story and you can tell more of that story digitally, and each person themselves can tell their own story, and we can help amplify it. Our goal is to elevate these people as high as they want to go and to reach for the stars.
For the big night, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2019 runway show showcased a lineup of women who stand for important issues donning socially conscious swimwear looks by designers who encourage and promote sustainability, inclusivity and philanthropy.
The runway show opened with hijab wearing model, Halima Aden in a custom designed burkini by Cynthia Rowley that read “DON’T CHANGE YOURSELF, CHANGE THE GAME”, setting the tone for the show. The most diverse and inclusive runway show to date, that celebrated individuality, this year they had a 55-year-old model, a fitness instructor with alopecia and a former dancer with an undiagnosed illness that has weakened her ability to walk. Other models on the catwalk included 2019 Model Search Winner, Brooks Nader, 2019 Cover Model Camille Kostek, Halima Aden, Jasmine Sanders, Kate Bock, Robin Holzken, Vita Sidorkina and Model Search Finalists, Ariadna Gutierrez, Ashley Alexiss, Brielle Anyea Cunningham, Christie Valdiserri, Clarissa Bowers, Courtney Smits, Djaniel Carter, Florinda Estrada, Hyun Joo (JooJoo) Hwang, Jamea Byrd, Kathy Jacobs, Katina Taylor, Miki Hamano, Nour Guiga, Salina Jade, Soraya Yd, Tanaye White
Designers featured on the runway included Abruzzo Swim, Acqua De Luxe, Alexiss, Andi Bagus, Antigua Swimwear, Badgley Mischka, Bissy Swim, Boohoo, CALi DREAMiNG, Fashion Nova, For Love and Lemons, Frankies Bikinis, Fredericks of Hollywood, GabiFresh, Kasa Kai, KRELwear, Krewe Du Q, Luli Fama, MegLiz Swimwear, Melao, Meshki, Mikoh, Mira Zadeh, Natasha Tonic, Norma Kamali, Ola Vida Swimwear, O’Neill, Paul and Rade, Poemä Swim, Port de Bras, Siempre Golden, Swimsuits for All and Vitamin A Swim.
The iconic and design driven W South Beach hotel, was at the center of Miami Swim Week’s mecca. Besides hosting some of the most anticipated shows of the season, they also hosted star studded parties, model led fitness classes, a W Swim Fashion Bazaar, beachside soirees, and wellness conversations. As one of South Beach’s most coveted oceanfront hotels, guests can also enjoy South Beach living with luxurious touches like their signature heavenly bed and sprawling marble bathrooms. The luxuriously appointed suite sized rooms evoke a contemporary Miami décor with expansive floor to ceiling windows and private balconies offering panoramic views overlooking the beach and ocean to soak in the best Miami Beach has to offer.