By Katie Little, CNBC.com
Some like it hot - especially women's swimwear designers.
For the eighth year, thousands of fashion industry pros and onlookers migrated to Miami Beach to check out the latest in "barely there" attire during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim. The show, which is one of the largest swimwear trade shows, ran from July 19 to July 23.
Although the bathing suits may be skimpy, the stakes are not. Women's swimwear sales are projected to grow to $2.9 billion this year while total U.S. swimwear sales are expected to hit $4.2 billion, according to forecasts from market research firm NPD Group.
"For designers, group shows offer turn-key production and public relations elements," said Christina Neault, executive producer of IMG Fashion. "For buyers and media in attendance, it allows them to see three or four designers within one show."
This year, color continued to dominate the runway as models strutted down the catwalk in intricate patterns, coordinating pastels and animal prints. Designers also put a new spin on the traditional one-piece suit with cut-out designs and silhouettes reminiscent of past decades.
The show's popularity grew this season as the number of designers showing their Spring 2013 collections there hit an all-time high with more than 30 present. The list included Lisa Blue, Luli Fama, Mara Hoffman Swim and BCBGMaxAzriaGroup.
See the full slideshow: Newest Swimwear Styles From Miami
Luli Fama Luli Fama
"Definitely the big story is color - just like in apparel," said Catherine Moellering, executive vice president of Tobe, a fashion retail consulting firm. "That's a trend that we don't see going away."
Marshal Cohen, an analyst with the NPD Group, added that color is the best prescription to curing consumers' "laissez-fair attitude" and getting them to buy.
"It is historically one of the best vehicles to help the lagging propensity for consumers to purchase," he said. "In other words - stimulate."
Luli Fama's collection drew upon the trend with eye-popping hues and an eclectic mix of prints. The presentation also incorporated pastels, a look that Moellering forecasts will grow in popularity during the 2013 season.
Already popular in its native Brazil, Cia.Maritima set out to win U.S. pocketbooks and fans during its Miami show. This look, which may evoke the rain forest more than the beach, is emblematic of the rise in one pieces with cut-outs that are more whimsical and fashion forward than the traditional suit worn during lap swimming.
"In terms of shapes, we're seeing a lot more interest in one pieces, but what's interesting is that they have a lot more cutouts," Moellering said.
Designers Nicole Di Rocco and Christina Milian paired up to design Nicolita's Swim 2013 collection, which drew inspiration from 1940s Cuba and the jet-set lifestyle.
This outfit features the animal print trend, which Cohen predicts will continue to make a comeback from its heyday decades ago.
Di Rocco created the brand in 2003 to flatter, curvier figures with the company's signature Cuban-style bottoms and blend vintage glamour with modern day silhouettes.
This one-piece from Lisa Blue harkens back to the pin-up era. The designer's show kicked off the season's presentations. Last year, Blue hosted her first solo fashion show in the U.S. at Fashion Week Swim.
Brazilian brand Poko Pano mixed its colorful looks with more subdued ones featuring splashes of white and black. This outfit was part of a series of beach-inspired designs with birds.
See the full slideshow: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Swim 2013
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By Katie Little, CNBC.com