Gran Canaria Swim Week by Moda Cálida positions the island as swimwear capital
As part of Gran Canaria's strategic plan to internationalise and consolidate its position as a fashion capital, the island played host to two major industry events last week.
Against the backdrop of booming foreign tourism in the region as the high season begins, Gran Canaria hosted the first summit of the European Fashion Alliance. The event brought together a total of 27 European and American organisations, such as ACME (Asociación de Creadores Moda España), the Fashion Council Germany and Copenhagen Fashion Week, with the aim of forging international alliances. That was followed by the 26th edition of Gran Canaria Swim Week by Moda Cálida, held at the Expomeloneras exhibition centre in Maspalomas.
"Gran Canaria relies on tourism, which represents practically our entire GDP. That is why we have an action plan to help diversify the economy in other industries. It is the only thing that will allow us to sustain our livelihood if things get complicated, as they did during the pandemic," said the Councillor for Industry, Trade and Crafts of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Minerva Alonso, in an interview with FashionNetwork.com.
Partnerships with fashion weeks in Berlin, Copenhagen and Miami
"We are working on an internationalisation plan with the Cabildo and the Chamber of Commerce of Gran Canaria," said Alonso, explaining that the swim week's presence at Berlin Fashion Week in March "led to meetings with other international fashion organisations and the creation of the European fashion alliance" for which Gran Canaria was "nominated as the capital to host its first global meeting".
The project seems to have produced its first results.
"What better place than Gran Canaria to meet," quipped the councillor, underlining the general satisfaction with the event's outcome.
As for Gran Canaria Swim Week by Moda Cálida, held between October 20 and 22, collaborations with other fashion organisations will be developed in the coming months.
"We have already confirmed our presence at Copenhagen Fashion Week next February with a high-profile event," said Alonso, adding that the organisation has already begun to hold discussions with Miami Swim Week in order to "promote exchanges and boost synergies between companies."
With a budget that, in recent years, has grown from 500,000 to 2 million euros, the programme for promoting Canarian fashion is not only limited to the highly publicised celebration of its fashion week, but also includes promotional activities, local events, grants and even a fashion school accompanied by scholarships.
"The support of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria and the Regional Ministry of Industry translates into grants to enable us to attend fairs, facilitate the acquisition of machinery or information material and organise fashion shows," explained the well established local designer Pedro Palmas, head of the firm Palmas, acknowledging that the demands required to be part of the programme are high.
"We are given support throughout the year with the aim of establishing an industry in the Canary Islands, which is difficult," continued the designer, who was the star of the third day of fashion shows dedicated to the region's designers.
"We come from sun, tourism, bananas and tomatoes. We don't have the same textile tradition as Barcelona or Galicia, but we have been working for years on building an industry from scratch," he acknowledged, indicating that, in his brand's case, the sustainable and recycled fabrics are supplied by a company in Bilbao, while the designs and manufacturing are made in Gran Canaria.
Buyers from Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, and Greece
At the end of the three-day event and the holding of 32 fashion shows, the head of the event organised in partnership with the Madrid trade fair institution Ifema did not hide her optimism.
"We are consolidating our position as a European swimwear platform and we have had a notable international presence. While awaiting the figures, the overall assessment we are making is very positive and the designers are very pleased," explained Alonso, pointing out that the buyers' programme for this edition was attended by professionals from Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Greece.
"For the brands, the show's visibility abroad is much more beneficial than the purchases made here by international tourists," the councillor added.
The catwalk event saw the participation of foreign brands such as Israeli firm Gottex, British brands Melissa Odabash and Alexandra Miro, Italian label Edelvissa, Danish firm Copenhagen Cartel, German brand Anekdot and Swedish brand Kamilla Belmont, whose runway show included a surprise performance by Cuban singer Yotuel.
The local creations included a tribute to mother earth by Nuria Gonzalez, who was awarded the prize for the best sustainable collection, thanks to her use of plant textures such as reeds or burnt pine bark, her aboriginal prints, the reuse and dyeing of potato sacks to create fringed bags and the customisation of shoes with sand from the beach.
"Upcycling is a completely innate part of my brand's identity. I have always recycled, never throwing anything away, looking for new possible uses for materials," said the designer, who still uses leftover stock from the time when she used to make costumes for Valencia's famous carnival. Of the young designers, Libérrimo proved to be the most promising emerging brand thanks to its body-inclusive designs.
Also present at the event was the well-established brand Aurelia Gil, with her '365' collection that paid tribute to the 20th anniversary of her eponymous brand, Diazar, with a fashion show that advocated LGBT+ rights; Maldito Sweet, with designs inspired by Tulum; Palmas, with flowing water-inspired patterns and shades; Como la trucha al trucho, remaining true to its signature bright colours and fun spirit with a collection that dressed cowgirls in beachwear looks; the sustainable artisanal firm Elena Morales, which presented sophisticated and elegant designs that included technical fabrics and corsetry; the lighthearted men's swimwear brand Chela Clo; the debut of optimistic brand Muchiachio, which took its inspiration from fashionable looks worn by tourists visiting the island; and the event's finale by renowned designer Arcadio Dominguez.
On the domestic front, Spanish designers Victoria Cimadevilla won the award for best collection, thanks to her designs that took the form of voluptuous flowers and bloomers; the brand founded by model and actress Laura Sanchez, once again opted for colourful and sporty swimwear. For its part, Bohodot was inspired by the Mediterranean, while the acclaimed Dolores Cortés looked to Phuket for inspiration and All That She Loves dyed its pieces in vivid colours.
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, who has become an indispensable figure on the Canarian catwalk, remained true to her signature style with a collection loaded with contrasting colours and her trademark clouds and hearts motifs, as well as a logo with her name that adorned many of the garments.
"It's the collection I'm most excited about this year, a super Agatha collection. For me this is the second most important catwalk in Spain, only behind Madrid, and maybe Barcelona", beamed the prolific designer from Madrid.
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