@MiamiSwimWeek Instagram-Related Company Cancels All Shows
Don’t panic! Miami Swim Week is still on, but one prominent would-be producer apparently isn’t, as the Instagram account calling itself @MiamiSwimWeek — which has been actively recruiting designers and models since at least January — has cancelled all its “shows,” only days before the beginning of Miami Swim Week.
What does this mean? For most of us, absolutely nothing. But for a group of small designers who now feel conned by the Instagram account, linked to one Lanzer Robinson — and a number of sites, including MiamiSwimWeek.Online, MiamiSwimWeekGuide.com, TheShows.Miami, and SwimWeek.US — it represents bitter disappointment, lost money, hurt relationships, and flights to Miami that can’t be cancelled.
It’s an ever-present danger in the often confusing world of social media, where people with “official”-sounding Instagram names carry disproportionately high perceived authority in a certain field.
It’s an ever-present danger in the often confusing world of social media
The company first came on the radar of Fashion Week Online on February 8, 2018, when we received an inquiry from a designer who said they had been contacted by “firstname.lastname@example.org” and offered packages for Miami Swim Week “from 1,000 to 25,000 dollars.”
The designer wanted to know whether we were familiar with the company, to which we replied there are multiple Miami Swim Week producers, and they should inquire about the company’s history of past shows.
Later that same day, we received an email from Lanzer Robinson of Miami Swim Week LLC, with an email signature including “email@example.com,” simply saying he wanted to introduce himself and he was: “excited to see [FWO’s] services rendered to helping us event specialist [sic] get our word out. I would love for our events to be listed on the website and would be happy to pay the listing fee.” [Side note: there is currently no listing fee for Miami Swim Week shows, free or ticketed.]
We responded by saying, “We’re all about supporting various producers,” and that we would wait for further information.
Soon thereafter, we began receiving emails from designers saying Lanzer’s company was claiming they had secured “the W” as a venue. We responded to each with the same message, that the producer was new to the market, and the designer should contact the W themselves to verify that venue was secured.
On May 17, we called the W South Beach [see important note below], and were given the names of two representatives there. We emailed, asking if the MiamiSwimWeek.Online shows would be held there, saying we had received a number of statements from designers that these shows would be at the W. We never received a response.
[Note: We received an email from the W South Beach saying they had no dealings with the producer in question, and that it was their belief the producer may have been planning a show at the W Miami.]
We never received a response from the W
Meanwhile, we continued to tell designers that they would need to evaluate for themselves, and urging them to verify with the W directly.
FWO began receiving a surge of emails from designers on July 2, telling FWO their shows had been cancelled. Some had received an email from Lanzer Robinson stating he regretted that they would be cancelling all shows due to a “change in landscape,” and that refund requests can be sent to “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
On July 2, we reached out directly to Lanzer Robinson for a quote, but have not heard back as of press time.
Was a W Hotel Ever Secured?
Canadian brand Vitae Apparel were able to contact a W hotel directly, and told us:
“According to [the person at a W hotel], [Lanzer Robinson] was never responsive, always delayed in answering, and had not yet given her the deposit for the venue or given her any plans for the show. When I told her I got an email yesterday that the show is cancelled, she wasn’t even aware it had been cancelled.”
The designer’s contact at a W hotel had not received the deposit or been given any plans for the show
What it Means
A few told us what the cancellation means for them.
For Taylor Ross (@taylorross) — a designer/seamstress from Philadelphia, who makes custom clothing for mostly “local people” — the cancellation was potentially devastating. (As of today, she has been able to secure a spot at Descalzo Shows.)
This is her story, in her own words:
“I started to get skeptical when he kept pushing the deadline and not contacting me about giving him the rest of the money. I was so busy making a collection of swimwear that I kind of forgot about it. Not only did I raise money through a donation site, I had around 30 people give me cash donations, and companies in Philadelphia wanting to sponsor me. He told me he provided me with models … he sent me hundreds of models to choose from on two different occasions.
I had around 30 people give me cash donations, and companies in Philadelphia wanting to sponsor me
“I also have my own models I work with here in Philadelphia, who bought flights and paid for their stays. My family and friends have also paid hundreds towards flights and stays in Miami to see me participate in this fashion show. I bought hundreds of dollars worth of fabrics, and tools to make my swimwear. I stopped my work, took time off to create my swim suits, paid models, and did photo shoots for my new swimwear so I could have a more professional look on my social media accounts by the time I went to participate in the show.
I bought hundreds of dollars worth of fabrics, and tools to make my swimwear
“I am one woman … I create and make every single swimsuit on my own with my two hands. I have no one helping me. He caused me a great deal of stress and a huge chunk of money. He has embarrassed me completely, toward the people I have coming to support me, the models I have booked, to the sponsors and people who donated to me. I am mortified. I have been posting on social media and telling people for months about this huge opportunity that turned out to be nothing but a scam. Lanzer Ronbinson emailed me on July 3rd, a week before I have travel plans, to head down to Miami, and cancelled my show, stating he could not get the confirmations he needed to go forward with the shows.
“The funny thing about this is when I first started with this journey, I emailed him and called him asking if this was a scam, I said I can’t believe you would want me to participate in Miami Swim Week … this was really a huge thing to me. He responded back with saying I was trending on social media and he loves my work so much he was going to help me go global! So everyone would know who I was. Someone like me coming from barely anything with this huge dream to be a designer and create swimwear, would freak out over something like this, and I did. I was over the moon, my mom my family my friends were all so excited.
He responded back with saying I was trending on social media and he loves my work so much he was going to help me go global
“Now on July 4th I am scrounging up my money to still participate in Miami Swim Week through a different company, so I don’t look like a fraud to people who have donated to me and people who are flying into Miami to see me. I am out a great deal of money. What Lanzer did to me is so unfair, and I am in such shock. He is currently not answering any emails or phone calls about my refund.”
A History of Failed Shows
Sources suggest this isn’t the first time Lanzer Robinson has failed to deliver shows, to the detriment of designers, models, and others.
Producer Ashley-Victoria Smith of Descalzo Shows supplied us with the following story:
“It was 2015 and I was working on my production, Charlotte Swim Week in Charlotte, NC. It was in April that year when Lanzer Roberson (at that time going under Miami Swim Week Guide [note: Lanzer is also owner of a site called “NYFW Guide”] reached out me asking me to be his executive assistant … as he already knew that I had a full production, with designers such s Kyle King, Cocksox, KARO Swimwear, etc.
“A few days later, I got my own ‘Miami Swim Week Guide’ email account, a New York phone number for ‘direct calls’ and even a direct deposit form for my commissions. He told me that he would book my hotel and flight for the week as well. Everything looked totally legit, but the one thing that I couldn’t find was PREVIOUS SHOWS PHOTOS, VIDEOS, ETC. But having good faith in people, I just assumed that they were new and still building.
“The red flags started when I couldn’t provide the designers with DIRECT answers. I would forward the questions to him and he would say things like ‘when they pay, they’ll get the contacts,’ or something along those lines. But like others, I only pay knowing what I will get (so that was really backwards for me).
The red flags started when I couldn’t provide the designers with DIRECT answers
“Thankfully, I never secured a designer for that year’s show — but I did send my models. That Wednesday the week of the show, Lanzer personally calls my then-18-year-old model (who had never been to Miami before) to tell her that she was walking in a show for a designer.
Lanzer personally calls my then-18-year-old model
“That model resides in North Carolina, so booking a flight to Miami and a hotel isn’t cheap. She called me with excitement in her voice, and just happy to have been asked to participate, but I was thinking, ‘that’s odd, I haven’t heard from him in several weeks, nor have I gotten my hotel or flight booked as promised from him.’
“Nonetheless, I told her to keep me posted. So with just two days notice — she paid for everything out of pocket– at 8am the day of the so-called show, my phone is going off. It’s my model, in tears, crying her eyes out, so confused, telling me there is no show.
“The hotel she was told to go to (Hilton Bentley), to meet her designer, didn’t have a reservation for her, or anything under Miami Swim Week – nothing, nada, zero.
The hotel didn’t have a reservation for her, or any for Miami Swim Week
“I started googling ‘Lanzer Roberson’ ‘Miami Swim Week Guide’ and found Stacey Williams who just happened to have also been scammed by them. Now she was flying in from New Jersey when Lanzer told her, THE DAY OF THE SHOW, that the production was cancelled. Stacey is in flight to Miami just LIVID.
“I was on the phone for literally hours all day that Friday just trying to find more information, other designers — it was a nightmare. It took a whole month for Stacey to get her refund from him because she went to press charges.
“Now even though the designers may get their refund from the production, they don’t get their true investment back; hotel, flight, additional marketing/pr, other show preparations, etc… it’s a huge loss for those who don’t have a second option to showcase.
“I asked him why he cancelled the show, he said ‘death in family.’ But on his Facebook page he was all about promoting how much fun he was having at the Essence Festival in Louisiana THAT SAME WEEKEND.
He was at the Essence Festival in Louisiana THAT SAME WEEKEND
“I am happy to share my story and call this man out in his wrong doing to many designers who do not deserve to be treated like this.”
Corrections: A representative of the W South Beach said they had no dealings with the producer in question, and that it was their belief the producer may have been planning a show at the W Miami, which is a separate hotel. We are currently trying to find more information. However, it is worth noting that FWO has received no complaints against either W Hotel.