Gran Canaria, the European capital of swimwear?
With a hard-earned reputation as a top tourist destination, Gran Canaria welcomed more than 4.5 million visitors last year. Most tourists came from Germany, the UK, the Nordics and France, according to data published by the Canary Institute of Statistics - a testament to the island’s international appeal. The island also holds plenty of economic promise, which coupled with its pleasant weather and historic local swimwear industry, should help it become a leading fashion destination for Europe. That is exactly what Gran Canaria Moda Cálida is trying to achieve. The swimwear event held its latest edition,for the first time with the support of Ifema, earlier this month. FashionNetwork.com goes backstage and dives deeper into the event's refreshed proposition in conversation with its brands, designers and institutions.
“The runway gives us more visibility, given the strong attendance of international buyers. Additionally, casting is great and represents a big opportunity for a brand that is just three years old,” says with excitement the press officer of sustainable fashion brand All That She Loves, which was founded in 2016 in Costa Brava. Her name is Evelyn Fernandez and she speaks confidently, with an expertise granted by experience, having headed up the press team of fellow Barcelona brand TCN for almost two decades.
“We made our runway debut with a fashion show during the last edition of 080 Barcelona Fashion, and Moda Cálida now offers us a great opportunity,” she tells FashionNetwork.com in the backstage of the brand's show. The staging later received the award to the best sustainable collection, giving the brand the opportunity to produce its upcoming collection with Nylstar, a leading manufacturer of sustainable fabrics.
Also recognised was well-established Canarian brand Aurelia Gil, whose collection inspired by La maquina de los sueños of painter Miguel Panadero and presented to the tune of Mala Rodriguez, received the L'Oréal Paris award to the best collection.
“The idea is to be well dressed when wearing swimwear, and the pieces should suit all body types. To this end, I’ve adapted my ready-to-wear ideas into swimwear," says the designer as she unveils her latest creations, which blend cool textures such as lycra with more suggestive fabrics like tulle and crêpe.
An industry veteran, the designer says she is happy with the change in dates, which has seen the event now take place after the summer season. “It has been good for us. The previous format forced us to accelerate our process to present a collection that would only hit stores a year later,” says Aurelia Gil.
Belén Larruy, creative director of Guillermina Baeza agrees. “After showing in the summer edition of 080 Barcelona Fashion, moving the dates of Moda Cálida has allowed us to be present," she said. "We are here again because Ifema told us about the project and the goal of making the event more international. We believe in this effort and thought we should be part of it. We have a long way to go.”
A long term project for institutions
Announced earlier in September, Gran Canaria's partnership with Ifema is based on a one-year contract worth about 630,000 euros. The initiative has been warmly welcomed by designers and brands, which value the trade fair organiser's experience and the common goal of building the event's international credentials.
“The partnership allows us to put Gran Canaria Moda Cálida in the international calendar of fashion weeks,” says Minerva Alonso, a council member of Gran Canaria. Ifema's involvement has also helped secure investment from private parties “with the support of eight sponsoring brands who have doubled their contribution compared to the previous season,” contributing about 280,000 euros.
Meanwhile, Eduardo López-Puertas, director of Ifema, is looking forward to a long-term collaboration with the aim of positioning Spain as a leading swimwear market. “We believe this is a great event, and with plenty of opportunities, as we work towards internationalising part of this runway,” said the executive, adding that the fashion and tourism sectors must work together to thrive. The chairman of the town council, Antonio Morales, highlighted the work done by the Grancanaria institution, which has helped increase the number of new companies by 47% and drive a 61.7% increase in swimwear sales in the period between 2016 and 2018.
According to official data, the 2019 edition Gran Canaria Moda Cálida featured seven international brands, including France’s Banana Moon and Livia, alongside nine Spanish brands and 23 from the Canary Islands. 21 runway shows were staged during the event. Additionally, more than 300 local companies took part in the event’s programmes.
The next edition of Gran Canaria Moda Cálida will be held in the autumn of next year. Expectations are high but it remains to be seen whether the island’s partnership with the swimwear sector will provide the much-awaited boost the local sector is hoping for. In the meantime, organisers are happy to focus on building an international platform to attract global interest and help take local businesses to new heights. A considerable challenge which will require the full support of the country’s organisations.
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