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A 13-year-old designer makes the cut at Miami Swim Week

A year ago, Ariel Swedroe finagled her way into Miami Swim Week. The enterprising preteen and fashion designer used her cell phone to show event security her clothing line’s website. Swedroe pretended it was a fashion blog and insisted she was a member of the press, landing her a front-row seat to the runway.

“I went to Swim Week as someone just watching the fashion shows, and I knew I wanted to be in it [this] year, so we made it happen,” the 13-year-old says, flashing a mouthful of gray-blue braces with her smile.

At 5-foot-2, Swedroe barely stands taller than the bolts of fine silks in her studio. While most teens may spend their summer vacations with friends or at the beach, Swedroe spends her days indoors preparing for Miami Swim Week, which this year runs Thursday, July 20, to Tuesday, July 24. The Miami native will make her Swim Week debut on Friday, July 21, presenting her second collection at the W South Beach through Sunday, July 23.

Her two-story studio and showroom in North Miami holds vibrant, whimsical resortwear inspired by her grandfather, architect and artist Robert Swedroe. He’s made more than 800 collages, which she uses for her fabrics.

“When my sewing teacher told me about digital printing,” Swedroe says, “I knew I wanted to incorporate his collages onto fabric. … He also seemed passionate about the project, so here we are.”

The fabrics in Swedroe’s resortwear line, Swedroe Art To Wear by Ariel, prominently display layers of butterflies and intricate geometric shapes. They’re printed on silks that are made into tailored pants, caftans and rompers, or neoprene used for swimwear.

“I love making bathing suits,” she says. “I think the fabrics are very Miami.”

While Swedroe Art To Wear by Ariel is her first clothing line set for mass production, it has been available for custom order on her website. Her team, which consists of her mom, a manager and public-relations company Tara Ink., has been scheduling meetings with buyers throughout her three-day presentation at the W South Beach Bungalow with the hopes of landing a contract with high-end retailers or boutiques such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

“One of my goals, that have been one of my goals since I was little, was to be in Bergdorf Goodman in New York,” Swerdoe says. “I love it there. It’s like, [sighing] like heaven.”

Her high-end line is immaculate. She pays particular attention to ensuring the complex patterns match at each seam. Her 23-piece collection features 12 designs that cost $230 or more.

“I’m designing for any woman who likes my clothing, but I really focus on women, like, 35-plus years old,” Swedroe says. “They love to travel, love to go to the spas. They really care about the quality of the clothing, and they’re not afraid to spend money on fashion.”

Ariel Swedroe will present Swedroe Art To Wear by Ariel 11 a.m.-4 p.m. July 21-23 at the W South Beach, bungalow 5, first floor, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The event is open to the public.

TJMedina@SouthFlorida.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

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