Since debuting in 1964, Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition has become a pop-culture phenomenon. For models like Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Kate Upton, and Chrissy Teigen, it’s also become a revered launching pad for successful careers in TV, fashion, business and film. What’s more, fashion gurus describe SI Swimsuit as the “Oscars of Swimwear,” as an appearance in the issue is a crowning achievement for swimsuit and accessory manufacturers.
Now Olympian Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will make her SI Swimsuit debut in the 2017 issue. The first black woman to win the all-around world title, 19-year-old Biles has taken the gymnastics world by storm, even getting a move named after her, “The Biles.” The pint-sized 4’8″ powerhouse is a living representation of an important shift in the gymnastics world. She was part of the gold medal-winning team dubbed the “Final Five” at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro—an individual all-around, vault, and floor gold medalist. She also won the bronze medal for the balance beam.
SI Swimsuit Bigger than the Super Bowl
Joining Biles, who lives and trains in the Houston area, is fellow gymnast and teammate Aly Raisman. The duo was photographed by James Macari against the backdrop of the VIBES festival; with shoots taking place around Houston at the World Champions Center, the North Houston Skate Park, and the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden.
According to a press statement, the SI Swimsuit franchise reaches more than 70 million U.S. adults annually and men 18 to 34 than the Super Bowl. It spans 20 product extensions along with an experiential marketing business.
To kick off the 2017 swimsuit issue, a two-day music, food, and culture festival—“VIBES” by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit—will be held in Houston on Feb. 17–18. What’s more, there will be special appearances by the models of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Class of 2017.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring the SI Swimsuit experience to America’s fourth-largest city less than two weeks after the Super Bowl, the biggest event in sports,” MJ Day, SI Swimsuit editor, said in a statement. “This year’s ‘VIBES’ event will be an all-new and expanded experience, offering fans a cultural festival that spotlights not only the amazing stars of the iconic Swimsuit issue but the best in food, music and more.”
SI Swimsuit Cultural Fan Festival
Mike Waterman, president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, added, “As the culinary and cultural capital of the South, we think this event is a perfect opportunity to work with an iconic brand like Sports Illustrated to showcase Houston to the world.”
The inaugural “VIBES” festival is the latest live event offering. In the past two years, SI Swimsuit has held launch week festivals in New York City, Miami, and Nashville, attracting over 100,000 fans.
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