J'N'C News 3/2020

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J’N’C News – Your insider source for the latest in fashion – Since 1991 – Issue 3/20 – Friday, 30 October 2020





THE PERFECT SNEAKER White, reduced sneakers are their trademark. Since they were children, Andreas Klingseisen and Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann have shared a passion for all things beautiful, especially shoes – even going on to establish their own footwear brand VOR in 2010. In an interview they told us where things stand today and what they’re hoping the future will bring. p. 20




Yume Yume





Jason Denham wants the denim industry to think outside the box and push things further – but this statement isn’t directed at the manufacturing mills. Find out who he means in our interview. p. 24

COVID-19 is certainly keeping the organisers of fashion and textile fairs on their toes. We are letting the most important protagonists have their say. p. 30

Which denim fabrics will be taking the spring/ summer 2022 season by storm? Find out in our round-up of the best new collections of the key denim manufacturers. p. 16

Eva Korsten and Dave Hendriks – the duo behind young shoe brand Yume Yume – are proving that there is a place for art in everyday life. p. 28





HOPE FOR THE BEST, PLAN FOR THE WORST After more than half a year, there is still an intangible feeling of impending doom hanging over our industry – recently reinforced by rising infection rates and newly emerging concerns about possible lockdowns and unstable constructs that are at risk of collapse. The pandemic is mercilessly exposing systems that have needed an overhaul for a while now; systems we knew were no longer fit for purpose but failed to do anything about for far too long. But 2020 is the year of taking action. Of confrontation. Of change. And change in this case means upheaval, restructuring and progress. So can the pandemic serve as a kind of catalyst for a renaissance? Just take the supply chain law that both the EU and the German government are feverishly trying to pass right now. During the first lockdown at the beginning of the year, it became clear to a lot of people that precarious supply chains and their associated structures were no longer tenable, not only from an economic point of view, but also from an ethical one. In our essay entitled ‘Everything that’s wrong with supply chains and how to fix it’ from page 14, we are turning our attention to the fundamental flaws inherent in the textile industry’s supply chains, which the COVID-19 pandemic has unsparingly exposed once and for all, and also looking at promising solutions. ‘Solutions’ is also the word of the moment for many tradeshow organisers in these turbulent times. Acting with the utmost flexibility, they are having to hope for the best and plan for the worst. We asked the key players of the fashion tradeshow industry for ‘A look back with an eye to the future’. From page 30, you can read how Anita Tillmann (Premium Group), Ulrike Kähler (Igedo Company), Andrew Olah (Kingpins Show), Mark Batista (Welcome Edition Showroom) and Sebastian Klinder (Munich Fabric Start) have experienced the past few months and how they are assessing the situation for 2021. From page 16, we’re also giving you a glimpse of the denim textile trends for spring/summer 2022/23. And on page 19, Isko’s Product Development Manager, Baris Ozden, is also casting a glimpse into the future – with a focus on sustainability. But the future of fashion, and therefore also of denim, lies mainly in the hands of the aspiring young designers. Find out which ones are giving us reasons to be more upbeat on page 10. Denim aficionado Jason Denham also has high hopes for the next generation of designers. The sneaker sector currently holds the key to what he would like to see happen in the denim industry – more about that from page 24. When it comes to sneakers, the duo we spoke to in our cover interview know the score: Andreas Klingseisen and Jörg RohwerKahlmann from VOR Shoes are telling us what makes a good sneaker and explaining why there’s a lot more to their hallmark minimalism than you would think. Read the full interview from page 20. Amsterdam label Yume Yume hasn’t been around for quite as long. But with her unconventional, artistic design approach, Eva Korsten has designed her way into the hearts of discerning shoe fashionistas. Together with her partner Dave Hendriks, she dreams of

having her own community, is working on a recycling scheme for shoes and also has some covetable apparel designs up her sleeve. Find out more from page 28. Speaking of communities, a network that goes beyond merely adding contacts is something that Aleksandra Avli has created with HON – a platform for businesswomen from across all industries and sectors that gives them the opportunity to communicate with one another, while supporting and learning from each other in the process. Our author Stephanie Baumgärtner met the founder in Paris for an interview, which awaits you on page 12. A true expert when it comes to a man’s needs, at least as far as fashion is concerned, is Massimo Pigozzo, Creative Director of Barena Venezia, who has the ‘The Last Word’ in this issue. On page 38 he is telling us what sets Italian craftsmanship apart, what he misses the most and why, despite or perhaps because of the crisis, he has been feeling quite zen lately. I hope you enjoy reading this latest issue, that it provides you with some valuable food for thought and that you manage to find your own zen moments amid all the current upheaval.


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Acne Studios



DESERT MEETS COURTSIDE Premium label Acne Studios has joined forces with LA-based artist Ben Quinn for their spring/summer 2021 collection. The result is a collection positively brimming with light and bright colour tones that exude an air of optimism and new beginnings – a glimmer of hope in these uncertain times. Ben Quinn’s work is inspired by his experiences with all things supernatural. One of his artworks, for example, is of a pulsating star, which Acne Studios is using as a print on

a metallic organza tunic, a washed linen top and a wrap skirt. And the painting makes another appearance within the collection as a patchwork pattern on sheer dresses and skirts. Also playing a key role at Acne Studios this season are draping and wrap elements, which convey a carefree effortlessness. /rd acnestudios.com



An odd match: premium Milan brand Alanui is intertwining Western inspiration with tennis references for the SS21 season. The brand’s knitwear collection mainly presents desert-inspired designs, such as the image of a valley landscape or intricately embroidered canyons on a cashmere cardigan, which is one of Alanui’s signature styles. Striped and graphic patterns are combined with fringing and a warm colour palette encompassing mustard yellow and burgundy red. And polo shirts and sporty cardigan styles are bringing a retro sportswear vibe to the collection. For 2021 the brand is also continuing its collaboration with Peanuts, unveiling a new partnership with footwear label Sebago and also launching its debut homewear pieces – a capsule of five different regenerated cashmere and wool blankets. /rd alanui.it

Proof that opposites can attract (and look appealing in the process!): for SS21, Object – the brand belonging to the Bestseller group – is bringing out a collection that oscillates between Parisian chic and Scandinavian minimalism. Styling the individual pieces together results in eye-catching combos such as a floral print with statement boots, a maxi dress with a rough and ready leather vest or a frilly collar with a masculine oversized coat. And the inspiration behind it all? The wild 70s. The name of the collection, ‘21 East meets West.Sustainability’ reflects the brand’s efforts to ensure the sustainability of their fibres. Fabrics making an appearance here include organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled wool, viscose and lyocell, which is used in 56 of the styles – not to mention another 18 denim and six woven pieces made from BCI-certified cotton. /rd objectci.com



Samsøe Samsøe


All new and improved for 2021: vegan fair fashion label Bleed is launching a new, creative distribution concept. Due to the changes currently happening within the industry, especially with regard to the fashion calendar, Bleed is now focusing on a mix of digital and face-to-face sales. An intuitive pre-order tool with a chat and product video function is available, and retailers will also have the opportunity to visit the brand’s showroom under new COVID-19-compatible conditions. Special ‘Ultimate Experience’ packages even enable retailers to spend the night, eat and take part in various outdoor activities there. Existing customers can also look forward to being sent ‘Touch and Feel‘ boxes containing lookbooks and fabric samples. /rd

If you ask Copenhagen label Samsøe Samsøe, the SS21 season is all about ‘Local Love’. Words like diversity, subculture and inclusion served as moodboard inspiration for a collection that combines both local and global aspects. Key looks include soft, geometric and floral prints, light, airy fabrics and oversized silhouettes, while soft tailoring and outerwear play an important role in both the men’s and the women’s collections. The colour palette moves between earthy tones and moody blues, grassy greens, washed-out purples and rich reds. Expressive animal prints are also making an appearance in the womenswear – albeit in understated tones that perfectly reflect Samsøe Samsøe’s typical low-key Nordic chic. /rd









FAREWELL, SEASONS Cologne eco and fair fashion pioneers Armedangels are leading the way once again. For spring/summer, they are saying goodbye to the dictates of the seasons and bringing timeless cross-seasonal designs into play. Which also happen to be extremely innovative: the label is launching its most sustainable men’s chinos yet (with 26 percent recycled cotton), and the new ‘Undyed Capsule’, which requires no dyeing processes whatsoever and is made from organic cotton. A new womenswear innovation is the ‘Festive Collection’ made from innovative material Ecovero Satin, which means dressing up to the nines can also be sustainable. While most of the fits are classic, oversized silhouettes are mixing things up a bit. /rd

The element of Californian surf and lifestyle brand O’Neill is very clearly water – or to be precise, the ocean. And as sustainability and preservation of the world’s oceans go hand in hand, for its spring/summer 2021 collection the brand is focusing on its ‘O’Neill Blue’ concept, which makes up the majority of this season’s offer. The special thing about the O’Neill Blue line is that all of its pieces consist of at least 40 percent sustainable materials, and the swimwear collection even boasts




STAYCATION Lee Cooper goes Greece: for the presentation of its spring/summer 2021 collection, the London denim brand put on a digital fashion show that took its audience on a make-believe trip to Mykonos. For the perfect Greece holiday vibe, the menswear collection includes highlight pieces like colourful statement shorts and dip-dye and tie-dye accessories, while casual denim fits and cropped T-shirts are defining the women’s looks. The latter can be styled perfectly with mom-fit jeans ‘Marlyn’, but the wide-leg pants in denim and non-denim or the new ‘Balloon Denim’ fit also promise a cool summer look with a vintage twist. And the men’s jeans also require a little fashion sense: as well as classics like the ‘Tom’ tapered fit, baggy fits are also playing a key role here. /rd leecooper.com


Taking centre stage in the spring/summer 2021 collection by eco outerwear brand LangerChen are the fabrics linen, Tencel and nylon. The first two make an appearance as fabric blends made from organic linen and organic Tencel: ‘Linen Tencel Twill’ and ‘Tencel Linen Twill’. The only difference between them is their drape. In the new collection, for example, they have been used in the two jacket models ‘Jay Em’ and ‘Cleveland’ and in the ‘Parnell’ coat. The ‘Light Nylon Stretch’ looks great in the styles ‘Nattai’ and ‘Koojan’ and offers full freedom of movement thanks to its two-way stretch. Most pieces in the collection deliberately harmonise with the colour scheme of the label’s previous 2020 collection, in keeping with the whole sustainability aspect and as a way of boosting the wearability and timelessness of the looks. /rd langerchen.com

an impressive 100 percent. This season’s highlights are the first completely recycled sandals for men: made from off-cuts and limited to just 2,500 pairs. As well as active, casual and swimwear for both genders, we can also look forward to a capsule collection in collaboration with professional Australian surfer Imogen Caldwell. /rd oneill.com


JANUARY ‘21 To request an appointment please go to



up & Coming Coralie Marabelle // 11.11/eleven eleven // Biskit

11.11 / eleven eleven

TRADITIONS FOR THE FUTURE 11.11/ eleven eleven is synonymous with synchronicity and perfection. The Indian brand, a subsidiary of CellDSGN Pvt. Ltd., is therefore on a never-ending quest for mastery – the highest level of perfection that its two co-founders and designers, Mia Morikawa and Shani Himanshu, certainly seem to be very close to achieving. Coralie Marabelle




French label Coralie Marabelle is not only ‘très parisienne’, but also socially committed and ecologically sustainable. The collections by the brand, which was established in 2016, are all still made at their Paris atelier, where their highly valued employees create beautiful and timeless pieces.

To see what happens when two siblings take different creative career paths and then decide to collaborate on a single vision, we just need to look at Indian design studio Biskit. Designer Shruti Biswajit and artist Harsha Biswajit joined forces in 2017 and having been working on their collective vision ever since.

After stints at Hermès, Maison Margiela and Alexander McQueen, it is obvious that Paris designer Coralie Marabelle draws the inspiration for her eponymous label from the world of couture. This is also where she developed her taste for materials, volume, clothing technology and upcycling. And so, above all, this means that sustainability and quality play a very special role in her collections. All garments aim to be timeless and are only available in limited quantities. And the materials used to make them are as sustainable as possible – by 2024 they are even planning to make their entire collections with eco-responsible materials. One of the brand’s current collaborations further underlines its awareness of sustainability: together with denim manufacturer Isko, Coralie Marabelle is launching a capsule collection made from the CCS-certified ‘R-Two’ fabric, a blend of 77 percent cotton, 20 percent reused cotton, 2 percent recycled polyester and 1 percent elastane. The two key pieces of the collection are a pair of jeans and a dress – both are workwear-inspired and play with artisanal and couture-style details and volume, pleats and finishes. But the central idea behind all Coralie Marabelle’s collections is female empowerment: women should feel comfortable wearing the label’s pieces, but also stand out at the same time – the idea is for the garments to give them a little confidence boost. The brand is also committed to a collective spirit and highly values the work of every single employee on the individual garments. Their first store opened in autumn 2018 in Paris and is designed as a place for customers to meet up, share ideas and be inspired by the high-quality designs. /rd coraliemarabelle.com


The brand meanwhile has its own stand-alone retail store in New Delhi and a concept store in Japan, as well as being stocked in 40 multi-brand stores across India, Canada, Korea, the USA and Japan. Its concept draws on traditions from Indian farming culture: this is where 11.11 gets its inspiration for sustainable dyeing and block printing techniques and the close cooperation with local farms and weaving mills. The result is ethical products with a modern, edgy look that are based on the skills of the local craftsmen. All the brand’s cotton pieces, including the denim, are made from so-called Khadi or Kala cotton, both handwoven fabrics from India that are naturally dyed. Another core fabric of the collections is Ahimsa silk, which is also sustainable and produced without harming or killing the silkworms. Knitwear plays an important role in this season’s collection and the individual pieces are hand-painted using the Bandhani technique and natural dyes. The result is earthy tones like yellow and smoke, as well as indigo. A lot of the garments are playfully embellished with cotton tape used as belts, tie-ups and inside trims. But it’s not only clothing you’ll find at 11.11: home textiles are also an integral part of their portfolio, especially since COVID-19. The mission behind the home textile collection was to decentralise production and, instead, collaborate with artisans from small craft communities who can work from home. And a positive side effect is that these communities in remote areas have some of the smallest CO2 footprints on the planet. /rd 11-11.in

Before establishing Biskit, the brother and sister duo moved from their homeland India to each pursue their respective fields in New York and Milan. But Shruti and Harsha Biswajit have meanwhile returned to their roots, which is why their joint label is based in the Indian city of Madras. Biskit sees itself as a multidisciplinary design studio, with a vision that encompasses everything from fashion to art, photography and design. And this holistic approach is certainly paying off. Their artwork, videos and website are incredibly stylish and blur the boundaries of disciplines. And it’s clear from the brand’s product palette that the key premise of their fashion is equality: all their garments are unisex and aim to contribute to breaking the duality of gender. The collections focus on what really matters to the designers: comfort, functionality and durability. This means that the brand’s timeless pieces are not tied to trends or gender and can be worn for much longer than the usual fast fashion pieces. Their first collection – ‘Spaced Out’ – was inspired by India’s recent efforts to participate in the space race, and portrays “a world on the brink of interstellar migration”. This is why the streetwear-minded collection includes, for example, multi-purpose voyager bags alongside classic silhouettes and fine art prints. This was followed by their first collaboration – with Copenhagen brand Gents, also a design duo, and therefore the perfect match for Biskit. Entitled ‘Human Connection’, the collab also consists of classic everyday styles – ranging from cool cargo looks to casual sweatshirt and track pant combos. /rd spacebiskit.com



Aleksandra Avli wanted to launch a network that goes beyond LinkedIn & Co. The result: HON.

STAY conNEcTED! Social distancing is not only the practice of the hour, but of the entire year. And that is putting a lot of companies to the test – not only socially, but also economically. Platforms that help us to stay connected are therefore becoming more important than ever before. But what will digital networking look like in the future? How can genuine connections be developed in front of a computer screen? Digital address book Her Online Network, or HON for short, gives women the opportunity to interact, provide support and learn from one other. A conversation with founder and CEO Aleksandra Avli about the opportunities of digital connections. Interview: Stephanie Baumgärtner

When she was around six years old, Aleksandra Avli and her mother fled the Balkan War and moved to Sweden. Avli spent her early childhood living in refugee camps and dreamt of changing the world, of becoming a diplomat or prime minister one day – goals that were ambitious but certainly not unachievable. Meanwhile 34 years old, the businesswoman can look back on a political career in the European Parliament. But for the last six years, she has been working in a very different environment. We caught up with the Swedish entrepreneur to find out how she has established a business platform for women in a very male-dominated industry.

What do you mean by "the system"? The women didn’t think that we could all be successful. They thought there was only enough room for one woman at the table. And because that’s how women think, we are constantly pressured into seeing each other as competitors. So our whole mentality, how we work, how we organise our work and how we integrate ourselves are based on the principle that we have to compete. This world wasn’t made for us. While the men were out there creating the world of work, we were at home being housewives. And it took fifty years for us to join them.

How did you come up with the idea for HON? It was always very important to my mother that I built up a Swedish network and got to know people and made friends. Thanks to her efforts I had a really good start in this new country, which was still very foreign to me. Even as a child, I thought I would rule the country one day! (laughing) So I was also very hard-working at school and went on to do a Master’s in Politics and Economics.

To what extent would you say that digital platforms are designed with men in mind? Platforms like LinkedIn conform to a hierarchical order. It all comes down to status, title and a strong network. That’s how men understand power. Who cares how many contacts I have if I’ve never even met them in person? During my political career I became disappointed and frustrated. I wanted to be somewhere I was happy, where I was seen and where I could develop my potential.

Who cares how many contacts I have if I’ve never even met them in person?

How did you end up in the start-up technology sector? I think it must have been around 2014. I wanted to be part of the tech boom and was working with Daniel Ek, who is now the CEO of Spotify. He had this fantastic idea of developing a digital global event venue. And that’s when I started organising the dinner events under the name ‘Her’ – for women in Stockholm. Get-togethers where women could be more than just a position or a job title. A place where they could chat to other women and support each other. Four years later I discovered the potential of such events in the technology sector.

And did it remain a childhood dream? No, I actually made my childhood dreams a reality and moved to Brussels to work. It was my first job – and it was in the European Parliament! I love turning ideas into reality. But in politics it’s often a case of all talk, no action. The reality was completely different from what I had expected. Something that really had an impact on me, however, was the behaviour of women in politics. To begin with, I was really looking forward to working with other women in Brussels. But I wasn’t treated very well the whole time I was there. I became insecure and believed that something was wrong with me. I started thinking I wasn’t nice enough or good enough. But it was all down to the system.


What makes HON different from all the other networks out there? I wanted to include women all over the globe who wanted to interact and meet up, whether they were in Stockholm, Paris or Berlin. Because, at the end of the day, we all have the same needs and questions. But what should it look like? With HON you don’t build up your own individual network, you’re just connected with everyone at the same time. It’s not about who you know. You’re not mea-

sured by your status or success. That’s the difference to other social media platforms that play with our egos. So it goes beyond a community spirit? Social media is normally there to commodify us and not to support individuals. That’s the opposite of what we want to achieve. We want to empower women – modern feminism, if you like. Not just locally though, but globally. How is HON financed? We don’t want to use advertising like Instagram does. Instead we want to be a ‘pay and play’ model. Our members pay for online talks or events, ones that they really want to participate in. They are paying for the service that HON is offering and that they want to have access to. We want to be more transparent about what we are charging people for. What potential do you see for HON in the future? So far the brand has developed through word of mouth and is growing organically all on its own. I ask myself why other startups sometimes struggle with their growth and we aren’t. I think the answer to that could be: HON is inviting people to shape the network with us. That’s the beauty of technology. We are enabling others to be co-creators. We are seeing that people want to listen to each other and that they want to communicate on a global level – even though we aren’t able to travel very much right now. We want to feel connected and also stay connected. joinhon.com App-based platform HON was founded in Stockholm by Aleksandra Avli. With authenticity at its core, it is a digital space for professional women to seek guidance, community and growth. Together with female mentors and global brands like Filippa K, it organises online talks and events that bring together women from all over the world.





EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH SUPPLY CHAINS AND HOW TO FIX IT A crisis, like the one currently being experienced across the entire world, brings not only new unimaginable problems but also reveals the cracks in an often-fragile system that is not fit for purpose – just like the global supply chains in the textile sector. Time to take stock of the situation. Text: Cheryll Mühlen

Two fundamental problems of supply chains within the textile industry were unceremoniously laid bare once and for all during the COIVID-19 pandemic: a major lack of transparency as well as serious, credible data on materials, suppliers, manufacturers and textile factories. The coronavirus crisis had barely begun to cast its shadow when reports about shortcomings in textile factories, cancellations of running orders, unpaid bills and much more started flooding in. The producers at the weak end of the chain soon realised that they couldn’t expect much in the way of solidarity from the sector’s big players. Hopes that close partnerships that had been developed over years could expect solidarity or loyal business


practices were soon dashed. Instead, COVID-19 exposed the wide-reaching existing shortcomings all over again: forced labour, child labour, slavery and inhumane working conditions. COVID-19 even intensified these intolerable conditions, but – tragic as this may be – did afford these issues the attention they needed to put the prerequisite pressure on those in positions and finally bring about real change. But what needs to change and how? START FROM SCRATCH? Rip it up and start again? A liberating idea, even if somewhat unrealistic. So no, let’s not start from scratch, but it’s high time for words to start being

backed up by deeds. Global trade and economic practices need to be better regulated. “The bigger risk isn’t the supply chain, the bigger risk is to the overall world economy,” Bruce Gifford, Chief Executive of 360 Sweater, told Business of Fashion, providing some important food for thought: can we not, for the sake of our global economy, finally pull together and start following the values that we are shouting from the rooftops so loudly? It is incredible how much the discussions about supply chains reflect the discussions about climate change. A Twitter user recently hit the nail on the head: “Stop asking candidates if they ‘believe in’ climate change and start asking if they understand it. It’s science, not Santa Claus.”

That is a fitting description of the situation in the fashion and textile sector. Because, just as climate change is a fact, so are the shortcomings in the textile supply chains. It’s not about belief. But about the fact that inhumanity and the destruction of the environment are knowingly being tolerated. GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN, GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY What do we humans, yes, humans, not the economy, really need now in order to bring out the best aspects of our humanity? It’s simple: laws, guidelines and if needed a sense of accountability.


Credit: iStock


And this is where the planned supply chain laws for the EU and Germany come into play. Both draft laws are aimed at stipulating and ensuring a fair supply chain system by law and preventing the global exploitation of humans and nature – because it has become clear that it is not enough simply to appeal to people’s conscience as Germany’s Minister of Development, Dr Gerd Müller, emphasised. Cross-sectoral laws that oblige companies to comply with human rights and environmental standards in their supply chain form the basic framework of the European supply chain law. Clear enforcement mechanisms and a system of sanctions should also ensure that these standards are met. The legislative initiative will be presented next year and Germany’s Supply Chain Act is then expected to come into force as early as 2021. Germany’s Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said in an interview with Vorwärts, the SPD’s official party newspaper, that Germany needed to set examples in this regard. “Germany is the largest economy in Europe and we need to focus on corporate responsibility – not only for fair working conditions, but also in the fight against child labour. There are many companies that advocate this kind of supply law because they say: ‘We are complying with our responsibilities in terms of human rights’, but it distorts the competition when others don’t comply.” And it is exactly this competitive concept that is cause for much scepticism: for example, if German company Adidas were sanctioned for not adhering to new supply chain laws while their US über-rival Nike was not liable to the same laws, theoretically, unfair competition would ensue. In order to counteract this, trade barriers could be established for companies from other parts of the world that don’t adhere to the same due diligence standards required of European companies but want to continue operating in Europe,” suggested Raphaël Glucksmann, member of the European Parliament. VOLUNTARY ACTION IS NOT ENOUGH But in Germany itself, despite our role as pioneers, we are also still struggling with questions

of ethics and morality. Results published by the country’s Interministerial Federal Government Committee as part of the monitoring of the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP) are rather sobering: NAP monitors the extent to which the approximately 7,300 companies based in Germany with more than 500 employees fulfil their due diligence in terms of human rights in the value chains. After two extensions and expansions of the sample tests, only 465 out of 3,300 companies had filled out the survey. In the second attempt, only 455 of the 2,250 companies returned valid questionnaires. The result shows that less than 50 percent of businesses comply with due diligence. “Issues like the exploitation of people and the planet or child labour should not become the foundations of a global economy and our prosperity,” says Dr Müller. “That would be like a boomerang that comes back at us. Our eco-social economic model can become a role model for a global economy.” Labour Minister Hubertus Heil also confirms: “There is no getting around the responsibility for human rights. The results of our survey prove that voluntary action is not enough. We need a national law that also ensures fair competition. The supply chain law only demands what is doable and commensurate. And it creates a legal and operational foundation for businesses.” But they are exactly the ones who need to take action as key players to ensure that these kinds of initiatives can gain a foothold. Many critics are questioning whether or not brands will actually step up and monitor their supply chains unless faced with legal penalties. EDUCATING COMPANIES ALSO MAKES THEM NERVOUS However, transparency in the supply chain is a major challenge. Brands and retail chains with an almost insurmountably large number of suppliers are simply unable to guarantee that everything is above board. That’s because they cannot look behind the scenes in all the factories their suppliers use. It is quite possible that there are dirty secrets behind the scenes that

they don’t even know exist, with guidelines on everything from working conditions to chemical usage regularly being abused. Nevertheless, even though a lack of knowledge doesn’t automatically equate to innocence on their part, brands run the risk of being unwitting accomplices of a broken system. Those who fail to take responsibility are part of the problem. The complexity of the supply chain can be broken down though – if the will is there. After all, complete transparency can make companies nervous. And established brands with equally established factory relationships stand to benefit financially from informational barriers. But the solutions to breaking down these barriers are already here. According to the digitalisation mindset of the COVID-19 era, an increasing number of experts are pointing out technological alternatives in the form of digital marketplaces that allow companies to connect retailers with suppliers directly and cut out the middleman. And it is making it easier for brands to acquire leads for new products and increased capacities, which could lead to a more flexible supply chain and, in the case of a disruptive crisis like the one we’re seeing now, ensure continuity and balance. In short: a comparatively simple transparent access to information on reputation, price, trust and availability. Meanwhile, Mango is not in the slightest bit nervous when it comes to transparency. According to the requirements of the ‘Transparency Pledge Standard’, the Spanish fashion chain recently published a list of all the information it has on factories where its clothing was produced in 2020, with the note “Mango does not own any factories and none of them works exclusively for our organisation.” Nevertheless, it is worth noting that in this case Mango is only revealing the first level, the so-called tier 1 of the supplier pyramid. The suppliers on tiers 2 and 3 continue to lack transparency and cannot be traced, which can lead to the previously mentioned “behind the scenes” issues. Nevertheless, with the publication of its manufacturing factories in its supply chain, Mango is sending out a clear signal on behalf of such

retail chains, which are finding themselves particularly under fire at the moment. THE WILL TO ACT “After COVID-19, the supply chains and system of production sites need a rethink. A genuine transformation in the textile industry is long overdue. Now the time has come to push for change,” appealed Jan Eggers, Sustainability Manager and Fairtrade Officer, at the beginning of the crisis is in an interview with J’N’C. Transparency remains the keyword here and should always be understood as an umbrella term for sustainability and fairness. An even more promising and well-thought-out solution is available from a Zurich-based start-up called Haelixa. Its eponymous DNA marker works as a kind of fingerprint that allows the origin of raw materials in products – without labels being manipulated or swapped over – to be traced and identified, literally from the farmer’s field through the various processing steps all the way to the finished product. For every tonne of raw materials, it only requires a few milligrams of the harmless and environmentally friendly Haelixa fluid, which is enriched with DNA tracers and can be applied with spray bottles or in dye vats to activate it. An excellent example of how transparency can and should work. And in the here and now, not in the future. It’s not only the crisis, but also new pioneering companies that are driving change and forcing transformation. And yet, the harsh reality at the moment is that major brands are continuing to source the majority of their products from a constantly fluctuating and therefore difficult to monitor global network of factories. And while many fashion brands are striving for the highest possible ethical standards, they still want to manufacture their products at the fastest possible speed and at the lowest possible prices. There is a conclusion to be drawn, however: whoever decides to take action, it cannot be done alone. The political powers need to come together globally and create clear transparent structures that will enable us to move on from mere words to actions and to take the first step in a long, but rewarding journey.



Denim Fabrics SS22 KilimDenim / Calik Denim


LESS IS MORE Kilimdenim takes its ecological responsibilities as a denim producer very seriously. And that’s a good thing considering the company produces around 30 million metres of denim and a variety of other technical fabrics year in, year out. The names of their latest innovations for spring/summer 2022 are ‘Nanox’ and ‘Naturex’. When it comes to these new product lines by the Turkish denim manufacturer, the focus is on less water usage and highly functional materials made with ecological fibres. And the ‘less is more’ philosophy also reflects Kilimdenim’s overall attitude to denim: less energy, less water but more functionality and versatility are what define the company. Along with a holistic approach, ‘Naturex’ puts the spotlight on materials like Tencel, hemp, linen and Refibra. And the next generation of denim is being spearheaded by the ‘Nanox’ fabric with innovative ecological fibres opening up different new production options. The result is denim materials with a fashion-forward edge and the accompanying hues and colours. Nanox also stands for high performance without any compromises in terms of comfort. Here Kilimdenim is offering an exciting combination of complementary core features like self-cleaning, antibacterial, water and oil repellent properties. Another exciting innovation by the company is its Cactus technology. Thanks to a new component that is used right after the indigo dyeing stage, this process eliminates additional water consumption. /cb kilimdenim.com

Calik Denim

NO COMPROMISE FOR SUSTAINABILITY According to Calik Denim, the future of fashion is all about eco-consciousness and digitalisation – which is why all new concepts within the producer’s spring/summer 2022 collection are moving even further towards a sustainable future. One of the concepts goes by the name ‘Blue H’ and has an impressive 20 percent hemp content. The material is antimicrobial, which prevents odours form forming on the garment and promises to keep clothing fresh for longer. It comes in three variations: ‘Rigid Comfort’, ‘Super Stretch’ and ‘100 Percent Stretch’. Another fabric innovation within the collection is ‘E-Denim’, which is based on a circular design: three types of recycled yarn are used here, including cotton and Tencel. The denim is ring spun giving it its unique structure and also contributing to closing the product cycle and generating less waste. Calik is also presenting a new dyeing process: as dyeing is usually the most water-intensive step in denim production, their ‘Dyepro’ process removes the need for any water to be used at all. And it seems that the Turkish denim producer has also been inspired by the global pandemic: their ‘D-Leisure’ and ‘Skinlithe’ concepts offer the utmost in terms of comfort. In the case of the former this is thanks to the use of modal, Tencel, hemp and CBD oil, while the antiviral properties of Calik’s ‘Washpro’ technology are a reaction to the growing demand for hygiene and safety. And last but by no means least, Calik Denim’s 2022 collection also includes ‘Selfsized’ – a ‘one size fits all’ concept that perfectly fits a wide range of different body shapes. /rd calikdenim.com



Denim Fabrics SS22 Bossa / Candiani Denim


DARK SIDE OF THE MOON Bossa has four collections planned for the spring/summer 2022 season: ‘Heritage’, ‘Dark Side’, ‘Sweet Home’ and ‘Nature Breath’. ‘Heritage’ represents the company’s roots in denim history. And their roots really do run deep: in 2021, the Turkish company will have been around for 70 years. Bossa has created a number of original heritage looks using the most innovative technology, going back to its roots in more ways than one: the ‘Heritage’ line with traditional fabric constructions is inspired by old-school denims. The colours making an appearance here are various nuances of vintage indigo. And there is also a line of black to light grey models, which goes by the poetic sounding name ‘Dark Side’ and is inspired by the moon, whose dark side we never get to see. A new addition to ‘Dark Side’ are the wash-down effects in different shades. And along with natural colours, the denims from the ‘Nature Breath’ line cover a wider palette featuring Jeansy Blue, Yellow and Khaki. A key focus this season is on Bossa’s Sweet Home collection. This fourth line seems to have drawn inspiration from the fact that we have all been spending more time at home than ever due to the coronavirus. Bossa describes ‘Sweet Home’ as denim that will give you a cosy feeling of home wherever you happen to be, along the lines of “Home is the place where you can truly be yourself.” To ensure that the fit and performance are in perfect harmony, they are also using highly effective technology to produce particularly functional power stretch. And on top of all that, the company has developed ‘Forever Fresh’ denims that don’t need to be washed as frequently because they stay clean and fresh for longer. /cb bossa.com.tr

Candiani Denim

BIODEGRADABLE STRECH A light-bulb moment while shopping for salami! When Alberto Candiani, the fourth-generation owner of Candiani Denim, was out grocery shopping in Milan, he suddenly hit on the idea for a sustainable alternative to elastane. He discovered that salami skin consisted of natural rubber and wondered if the same technology could also be used for stretch denim. This was the original idea behind the innovative ‘Coreva’ yarn, which they hope will gradually completely replace the usual synthetic and non-biodegradable elastane. Made of organic cotton with a natural rubber core, the biodegradable fibre is completely plastic free, which brings the manufacturer of denim textiles one step closer to full recyclability. And without any compromises in terms of quality and style: elasticity and durability remain constant in their denim products, just like textiles made with conventional elastane fibres. The result is four different denim fabrics made of 96 percent organic cotton and four percent ‘Coreva’ yarn. The ‘K-Navy Vibe’ style is characterised by its particularly authentic denim look with a salt-and-pepper effect in light green indigo with a slightly greenish hue. Added to that are the styles ‘Universe Lounge’ with a somewhat darker wash, ‘Universe Cove’, a black-dyed denim and ‘Ecru Lounge’ in washed-out white. With innovations like these, Candiani is already working with brands like Denham and Stella McCartney to propel the denim sector into a new era of sustainability. /rd candianidenim.it



Denim Fabrics SS22 Iskur Denim / Orta Anadolu

Iskur Denim

ANTIVIRAL FABRICS Part of the ‘new normal’ is that textile manufacturers are increasingly coming up with new ways to help out in the pandemic. Such as Turkish denim manufacturer Iskur, which has developed an antimicrobial technology that protects materials from viruses, bacteria and fungi. Their special treatment can be used during the finishing processes of (medical) clothing and mask materials. This technique was developed at the Iskur Group’s R&D centre where 31 scientists have been working on new technologies continually since 2018. Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, however, the project has taken on a new sense of urgency. The centre’s future-oriented studies reflect Iskur’s consistent commitment to health and comfort. Talking of comfort, they are also presenting two new denim concepts for spring/summer 2022. The ‘Soft Breeze’ concept includes soft fabrics with a comfortable fit, guaranteed by the use of different fabrics such as Tencel and Modal and innovative production and weaving techniques. And then there’s the ‘Free Move’ concept, which, thanks to its striking knitwear look, is ideal for homewear, streetwear or sportswear. Particularly suited to unisex fashion is Iskur Denim’s textile innovation ‘Denim Soul’ for an authentic jeans look – including the two sub-groups ‘Marble’ with a 1970-style salt-and-pepper effect, and ‘Flexicity’, for an especially high elasticity. Sustainability will continue to play a major role in 2022. The ‘Earthsquad’ concept brings together sustainable yarns like organic, BCI and CMiA cotton, as well as natural yarns including Tencel, modal, hemp, linen, cashmere and textiles made of soy proteins. Added to that are pre and post-consumer recycled yarns that are processed at Iskur’s in-house factory. Natural energy sources like sun and wind energy are used to make them. And compared to traditional dyeing, the denim manufacturer’s indigo dyeing process also manages to save up to 95 percent water. /rd iskur.com

Orta Anadolu

ECOLUTION OF THE FUTURE Orta Anadolu’s spring/summer 2022 collection comes under the heading ‘Ecolution’ and represents an eco-modern revolution based on the four pillars of the Turkish denim manufacturer’s company philosophy: art, sustainability, technology and biology. That also covers topics like ethical innovations, circularity, transparency, authenticity, ultra performance and durability, which can be found in all five of their new lines: Gen H, Denim A/C, Hydrotech+, Eco-Magic and Meltem. It all starts with Orta’s ‘Gen H’ collection, made from eco-wise hemp that has a more rustic approach to authenticity. And since hemp is naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, ultra-soft and breathable, it is extremely relevant right now. For SS22, the ‘Gen H’ family comes with plenty of options in terms of look, colour, elasticity and weight. Anti-static and stay-black features are the name of the game in the ‘Denim A/C’ family: designed with moisture-activated Coolit technology that responds dynamically to body temperature and perspiration, it aims to keep you cool in all situations. In terms of comfort, the ‘Hydrotech +’ collection offers optimum elasticity while lowering the shrinkage of the fabric. In addition, ‘Hydrotech +’ is hydrophobic, which means it instantly repels biologic water to stay dry and clean. It is made with a durable waterrepellent shield that uses PFC-free and PFOA-free chemicals, without fluorocarbon. The fourth SS22 collection, which goes by the name ‘EcoMagic’, is a magical denim finish that transforms the structure and feel of ready-to-dye fabrics. To achieve this, Orta’s iconic finishing process ‘Alchemy’ is being merged with a new functional aspect: PFD (prepared for dye). And last but not least: ‘Meltem’ – Orta’s denim for today’s ecoliving generation-future. This regenerated and reconstituted blend of ecopositive fibres and raw ingredients adds a sense of lightness and comes with a soft touch and sustainable elasticity. /cm ortaanadolu.com



Denim Fabrics ISKO

Baris Ozden, Product Development Manager at Isko

TIME FOR DENIM TO GET THE RECOGNITION IT DESERVES As Isko’s Product Development Manager, Baris Ozden is responsible for not only the development of new fabrics but also the investments required. In an interview he is telling us why we need to rethink the concept of unisex clothing, what his biggest challenge is and when we can expect the next eco-friendly stage of development at Isko. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

I don’t believe fitting is a problem, considering The R-TWO platform is the main inspiration our wide range of super stretch, high recovery behind your upcoming collection. What does fabrics and constructions that can easily be this mean for the design team and what do turned into unisex fits. The real challenge is to they have to pay special attention to when it give these fabrics the right look, feel, colour and comes to the R-TWO concept? weight in order to make them attractive to all For us, sustainability is not a fleeting trend that potential customers, regardless of gender. For will eventually go away. That’s why it’s important instance, we are currently working for our design teams to understand on the development of a selection of our commitment to this issue by masculine-looking fabrics, targeting looking at the whole picture, to men, but they are attracting a lot of see how deeply committed we are interest from women too. to monitoring everything we do It wouldn’t be wrong at all to say that through facts and figures, relying the meaning of ‘unisex’ is changing, on third-party organisations. Someso we should start asking ourselves times this may seem too scientific, what this concept actually means in but it is extremely important, othertoday’s society. wise you run the risk of sustainability being little more credible than People’s shopping habits and how a fairy tale. they dress have changed somewhat When it comes to R-TWO, our Baris Ozden over the past few months. So the revolutionary platform using a mix ‘stay at home’ trend represents a of certified reused and recycled switch in preferences as well. Luckily, Isko now materials, it is crucial to understand that it goes has quite a few concepts to offer that can cater way beyond simply picking sustainable fibres. to every style and comfort need, proving that After all, no one would consider a product susjeans are in fact a very adaptable and evolvtainable if it’s made using sustainable fibres but ing product group. But are people ready to polluted water is dumped into the environment understand that their denims come with aloe during its production. This programme is the result of a very wide range vera and other skin-nurturing ingredients? And to what extent do your customers accept and of commitments, which takes into account the enunderstand this concept? tire production chain to lead to its overall improA very important part of our job is providing vement, and this is what I think everyone should people with new concepts and solutions that they keep in mind when thinking about the R-TWO didn’t even know they needed. This means being concept. Also, the platform allows for all the faable to imagine something that doesn’t seem shion features of our products to unfold despite it all, as it doesn’t compromise on quality and style, possible in the first place and taking the risk to develop it. When it comes to our area of innovaboth of which remain unparalleled. tion, people need to feel the comfort, but they also need the idea that helps them understand why Unisex fits are playing an increasingly imthey are feeling good. The logic is very similar to portant role in the fashion industry. But what the one driving the cosmetic industry, which is one challenges does this development pose to maof the biggest businesses in the world and connufacturers and how is the ‘fit problem’ being stantly expanding its range of product categories. solved?

Isko’s ‘Mantra’ – advanced denim infused with microcapsules of aloe vera and body lotion – is the perfect example of both the kind of risk we need to take and the kind of concept that our customers will end up understanding and enjoying, and then wondering how they could have lived without it.

I believe it’s wrong to treat sustainable technologies as if they were the products of a fast-food oriented mentality. We love sustainability and eco-friendly technologies as much as you do. So what new developments can you share with us and where is the future of denim heading in the next two years? Genuinely sustainable and eco-friendly technologies are long-term improvements, which require a lot of time and monetary investments. At Isko, we are continuously working to improve them in the best way possible. I believe it’s wrong to treat sustainable technologies as if they were the products of a fast-food oriented mentality. We shouldn’t think that once you achieve one goal you immediately have to move on to the next one on the list: sustainability is not a trend that comes and goes or that you can digest very quickly, it’s an overall commitment that takes time to be achieved. That’s also why we prefer to speak of “responsibility”, a less vague concept that has allowed us to reach a healthy awareness and constantly pushes us to commit to understanding where we can be and do better. We are now investing in this direction and keeping our focus on the further advancement of RTWO concepts together with additional solutions that will have a positive effect from a sustain-

ability point of view. In the next two years I hope we’ll be able to present our customers with new eco-friendly improvements. Speaking of the future: washed denims (with destroyed elements) are now being replaced by clean denims with minimal finishing processes. What other denim trends will dominate the upcoming season? There’s a lot going on in terms of trends in our upcoming collection. For sure, high-quality garments with a very simple and clean look will be trending, but we also see some room for high-fashion inspiration. And the love for denim will continue unabated. Are there any misconceptions and prejudices about denim that you, as Isko’s Product Development Manager, encounter time and again and which you feel the need to correct? Denim has come a long way from being just a cheap workwear fabric. Today, it’s an authentic fashion item and the effort we spend producing it is no less than what other fashion textiles require to be innovative and sustainable. It’s high time denim got the recognition it deserves. And last but not least, with so much going on right now, what remains the most challenging task for you in your role? The most challenging task I have to face is finding the balance between two key elements: the development of new responsible, yet outstanding fabrics and the investments required. When you work to create new products while respecting the planet and its resources, investments are required, so it’s very important to do it in a way that keeps the final results appealing to users from a cost standpoint too. It can be a little discouraging sometimes, but it’s not impossible and, at the end of the day, that remains my main goal. iskodenim.com



Brains behind the Brands Andreas Klingseisen & Jรถrg Rohwer-Kahlmann / founders of VOR

Best buddies: Andreas Klingseisen and Jรถrg Rohwer-Kahlmann in front of their Munich store.



Brains behind the Brands Andreas Klingseisen & Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann / founders of VOR

FREE SPIRITS White is not necessarily always white. Andreas Klingseisen and Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann would certainly agree with that. Because when it comes to their footwear brand VOR, which they established in 2010, only the very best is good enough – which sometimes means spending a little more time and effort on finding exactly the right colour tone for a shoe. We met up with the founders and best friends at their Munich store for a chat.

Interview: Cheryll Mühlen with Pierre D’Aveta, Photos: Markus Bronold

The two sneakerheads met in the schoolyard, while skating and playing basketball to be precise. They instantly bonded over their passion for “the good things” in life, as they put it: including music, fashion, colours, shapes, proportions and, above all, sneakers. Even when they were teenagers – Andreas Klingseisen was around 13 and Jörg RohwerKahlmann 15 when they first met – it was inevitable that their passion for sneakers would become their calling. Back then they were already customising their own kicks, cutting high-tops into low-tops and sticking them together. As students, when they were both living in the same shared flat, the spacious hallway was turned into a sneaker gallery. A sign of things to come. “An owner-run company with products ‘Made in Germany’: founded with passion, managed with passion, growing old with passion,” Andreas Klingseisen tells us with a grin. VOR Shoes represents timeless design that has freed itself from the constraints of trends and fast fashion. The brand is minimalist and understated but has a heart for street sneakers and iconic silhouettes. An interview about friendship, freedom and the right gut instinct. You’ve been friends for around 30 years and share a passion for sneakers, but what made you decide to set up your own brand? Jörg: I had worked at Puma as a designer for a few years and then as a freelance footwear designer. Andreas: And I thought I knew what was beautiful and what wasn’t! (laughing) Jörg was always the prodigy. I was only sure of one thing: what I liked. And we shared the same fundamental understanding of aesthetics. Jörg had reached a point where he wasn’t all that happy in his job and I had already been thinking that it was time for him to put his talents to use somewhere else. In my opinion, things couldn’t carry on how they were. So I thought: I’ll manage him. But instead of being his manager I suggested he do his own thing. And that’s how VOR came about.

Just like that? Andreas: Yes, why not? Jörg: It was feasible thanks to my career trajectory and Andi’s “Let’s just do it” approach to life. We just wanted a shoe with a reduced aesthetic that you can style the way you want. Andreas: And it was important to us to pick up on every shoe genre that we had worn ourselves as teenagers but to reinterpret them in our own way. And how did you hit on the name? Andreas: We wanted a German name and were toying with terms like Vorreiter (pioneer) or Vordenker (visionary): VOR is free of trends, free spirited and independent of seasonal fashion.

Sometimes the art lies in what to leave out, rather than adding something unnecessarily. You seem to set high expectations of yourselves because on your website it says: “Shoes are not what we produce. It’s quality. And to us, quality means absolute perfection.” Yet true perfection is unattainable. What does it mean for you? Jörg: When we say perfection, we don’t mean a product that is 100 percent perfectly created – for us perfection is the fact that you never stop trying to improve and continuing to search and questioning yourself over and over. A shoe that focuses on the essentials but can always adapt, because there’s always room for improvement, that’s what represents the utmost perfection for us. Andreas: Above all, the focus is on “us” and to us quality means absolute perfection. We design shoes that we like in the belief that others will also like them. We work a lot on the shape, the material or on getting the exact right tone of white. For some, it’s just white but for us its hazy

white or pure white. We create our own colour hues because they aren’t available to order how we want them. And although we produce in small quantities, we don’t shy away from any expense or efforts to find the exact white tone we are looking for. Nuances and attention to detail are clearly very important to you. Andreas: Absolutely. Sometimes the art lies in what to leave out, rather than adding something unnecessarily. Jörg: But it’s not quite accurate to reduce VOR simply to following the minimalist approach. Yes, we are elegant and clean-cut but those who know us, know that we are also rockers, hip-hoppers and skaters and not just men in suits and ties – and the same goes for our customers as well. Andreas: If you look at us from a marketing point of view then that assumption is both a blessing and a curse. Other brands are much easier to categorise and therefore their customers too. But in our case a customer could be any age, 20, 40 or even 60. Jörg: That’s the great thing about us. Andreas: It’s great but definitely harder to market. Something that no doubt helps you with that is your ‘Made in Germany’ tag. Jörg: Yes, but we should mention that we weren’t ‘Made in Germany’ right from the start. Andreas: That’s right. We started out producing in Vietnam, at a production site that has clients like Paul Smith and Nike. But because of our relatively small product quantities, our orders were always delayed so we decided to produce in Europe; Portugal or Italy to be exact. But we had no luck there either. During an interview with a sneaker mag the editor-inchief gave us a tip to get in touch with Bernd Hummel. We ended up talking on the phone and a few days later we were sitting in Bernd Hummel’s office in Pirmasens, where we sealed the first production order with a handshake. That’s how we ended up producing in Germany.

Jörg: It was just a perfect fit. And now we are basically manufacturing right on our own doorstep. A German sneaker brand that can produce its shoes locally – for us, it doesn’t get any better than that. Were there any advantages to producing in Germany during the COVID-19 crisis? Jörg: Well, you need to see advantages in relation to others – and there were some brands that experienced great disadvantages. But yes, during the crisis we certainly had the advantage of producing our doorstep. That fitted in with the interest that was there previously, and which has continued to grow a lot during the crisis, from the kinds of target groups that want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced, for example. It’s also an idea that has asserted itself in the fashion world. A lot of people have had time to reflect on these issues in recent months because the world that we once knew has turned into something almost apocalyptic. Well, things certainly don’t look apocalyptic at VOR Shoes. What are your plans for the future? Andreas: We will actually be celebrating our ten-year anniversary this year and actually had lots of highlights planned, including physical events like an artist exchange. But we had to cancel them all due to COVID-19. An artist exchange? How does that fit in with VOR’s image? Andreas: Although we make sneakers, when it comes down to it we are a people’s business. We know lots of people from all sorts of industries and like to bring them together. That sounds like it would open up a lot of collaboration potential… Andreas: We are open to that but also a little reticent. We aren’t pushing it consciously as such. We do get a lot of offers, from everything from ‘globally renowned’ brands to ‘small/under-



Brains behind the Brands Andreas Klingseisen & Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann / founders of VOR

One vision: Andreas Klingseisen and Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann share a passion for good-quality sneakers and both have the same approach to design.

ground’ ones. We see a lot of potential in both and don’t allow ourselves to be influenced by the presumed large reach of a brand and much more by our gut instinct, whether we have a good feeling about it, think it’s beautiful and, most of all, if it is a good fit for VOR. Jörg: For example, we recently worked on some features for Porsche racing cars with good friends from the automotive industry. A lot is happening in our network! So you work with artists and the automobile industry – that’s genuine proof of your free spirit! Andreas: Actually, a lot more requests come in than we could ever take on. And even though we are cautious when it comes to collaborations, we’ve always been open to them. For example, we designed a shoe for BMW for the release of a new car model. We had long discussions beforehand about whether we, as a small shoe brand, could work with such a global player. But in the end, it all just came together: the feel for design, the quality, we spoke the same language, and they are based in Munich – everything just fell into place. Jörg: There are actually still a few exciting projects we haven’t been able to complete, sadly, because of COVID, and some that may be permanently on ice. We had a commission from a hotelier, whose hotel was being promoted from three to four stars and we had the job of designing their entire hotel uniform from head to toe – from the technician to the hotel manager. So you also do apparel? Andreas: It’s really the shoes that are at the focus at VOR. We wouldn’t suddenly start designing bags or anything like that. But we also have an agency that deals with these kinds of commissions, like in the case of the hotel uniforms.


So VOR fans can’t start looking forward to any T-shirts or apparel collections from you soon? Jörg: It’s a possibility. We are currently in the exploratory phase. Andreas: Let’s put it this way: if there is a cool project and we think we’ll have fun with it, then we’ll do it – like with the hotel, which doesn't have anything directly to do with VOR sneakers, but we still wanted to do it. Jörg: But we like to keep our options open. Andreas: I would love to open a kind of Manufactum for men and design the best product from each product category for me – the best jeans, the best T-shirt and so on. Jörg: But it needs to make sense and be fun for us. We don’t do it like other indie brands who bring out caps, beanies and so on just for the sake of it. We do things either because it makes sense in terms of being a good fit for our profile, for example for an event, or because we feel like we’d enjoy the product. Andreas: We need to pick up a little more speed in terms of development first.

We’ll be making our own running shoe with Vibram soon. Coming back to the subject of collaborations: are there any dream partners you would like to work with? Andreas: A great collaboration that comes to mind is Fear of God x Zegna – I like the colourways and the silhouettes. But at the end of the day, we are so much in our own microcosm that we are completely self-sufficient when it comes

to working within the team. That doesn’t mean that we would reject everything per se, but I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head. Jörg: We’re not working towards anything specifically, but we’ve had some totally awesome experiences. Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi and Macklemore, for example, wanted to, or already have, worn our shoes. Macklemore discovered the shoes at a concert in Munich. Weeks later we were sent a video of him getting out of a Cadillac in the USA wearing a pair. To see the shoe suddenly transported from its micro-universe in Munich to America was mind-blowing for us. It’s so much better when these things just happen on their own. What’s happening in terms of sneaker releases at VOR? Andreas: We’ve always worn early-90s/mid-90s running shoes. Together with Vibram we’re now planning our own. With an eye on the target group, there are a lot of people who would like to have a running shoe anyway, so it makes perfect sense. Jörg: But first and foremost, we’re making the running shoe because we want to have it. We used to like wearing this style ourselves. We want to do justice to our own vision. Andreas: Exactly. That’s what we’ve been working towards: making a shoe genre that we’ve wanted to offer in our range for a long time now. I’m sure you’re also keeping a close eye on all the unconventional sneaker trends out there right now. Do you have any no-gos? Andreas: I think anything goes as long as people like it. So if the demand is there, for example due to influencers or current trends, then that’s fine. Certain subcultures are needed to bring the

trends onto the streets and make them suitable for general consumption. See Kanye West and the oversized trend. There are lots of things out there that we like and understand but that we wouldn’t necessarily incorporate into our design process as a brand. Jörg: We would never be arrogant enough to say that something is absolute crap, even if subjectively you might think that. But you can still say if something is well made. When a shoe like the Balenciaga ‘Triple S’ becomes cool, however, it’s a completely different category, because it’s all about the hype and the very high price point in the luxury segment. What with celebrating your tenth anniversary, countless loyal fans and positive feedback, you certainly must be doing something right. But what are you most proud of up to now? Jörg: Definitely of our friendship that has survived for so long and carried our company. And of course that we are still here after ten years and that it’s still working. We do everything with passion and invest all our energy, so I guess we must be on the right track. Andreas: I agree wholeheartedly with Jörg. When we founded VOR, I never thought about failing or about a plan B. We didn’t drive ourselves crazy but simply got things done and did what we wanted to do. The fact that we are still here after ten years and are continuing to develop, that really means something. I’m proud of the fact that we never put ourselves under too much pressure and that we are still able to develop and make money at the speed we want in the way that suits us best. What more could we ask for? vor.shoes


Brains behind the Brands Andreas Klingseisen & Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann / founders of VOR

There’s more to VOR sneakers than meets the eye – not only are they clean and sleek, but also real hip-hop icons.



Brains behind the Brands Jason Denham / founder & CCO at Denham Jason Denham, founder & Chief Creative Officer at Denham



Brains behind the Brands Jason Denham / founder & CCO at Denham


NOW The denim industry is too wrapped up in itself – an intriguing yet polarising statement when read out of context. But passionate denim aficionado Jason Denham wants his beloved industry to look outside of the box and push things further. An interview about opportunities, partnerships and dream-come-true collaborations. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

First off, an unavoidable question: how have you been doing since the coronavirus hit? The first quarter was a big headache – first of all we shut down China, then Europe and then Japan. It has been challenging but now we are back on track. We’ve picked up very well in the second half of the year, which is great. But yes, we still have to monitor everything everyday and keep looking forward and staying positive. But to be honest: it does feel like this year has gone by very fast. Did you notice any differences between Japan, China and Europe in terms of how they went back to business? China bounced back impressively, as well as Europe. Our business here is mostly in Northern Europe and we noticed that people there had an appetite to go back to the stores again and, since they weren’t travelling as much, they were in their home market and stores. So what does that mean for your own stores? Well, we have 65 stores and we bounced back as well – I guess because of how we handled our communication with our customers at the start of the process and we did a very good job in terms of how to manage wholesale, retail and online business. Speaking of communication: how did you handle the shutdowns with your partners? I’m a big fan of partnerships on every level of the

business. First of all, we worked with our vendors to keep things moving. A lot of people shut things down completely, but we respected all the orders that were there and kept everything moving. Then we spoke to our wholesale customers and explained to them that we would ship our products if they needed them or – if they preferred – we would hold them back and not put any pressure on them. We also worked on payment term plans with our wholesale customers to give them time. To sum it up: we did a number of different things that would help us all get through this. We all need to work to find solutions together – that is part of the success of bouncing back. So what’s your take on the disruptive supply chain problems that occurred – especially in Asia – where many companies let their partners down? I think the supply chain is key and that every part of the business is one important link and we all rely on each other. So there is no way you can just stop one part of that. Of course there was a lot of news in the press about the big chains cutting all their orders and that kind of stuff, but we are not that kind of company. Like I said before: we need to work to find solutions together. So many things have changed and are still changing – some in the short term, some maybe forever – but what do you miss most since the crisis hit the globe?

I miss the interaction with people, connecting with our teams in Asia, I miss feeling the market – we can do a lot with digital and virtual tools but nothing can replace the physical experience. Of course it’s great to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WeChat and FaceTime and all those different channels, which have been amazing because they all have taught us what is possible, but I do miss being physically in the market. It just gives you something very special.

The younger generation has an incredible opportunity to change the game. The pandemic definitely showed us that we are capable of coming up with digital solutions, hence all the cancelled tradeshows that have become one of the most defining characteristics of the industry during COVID-19. What are the main lessons learnt from being online-only? We are creatures who adapt very quickly. When there is a vaccine I do believe that people will travel again. However, I doubt it will ever be the same as pre-2020. We have learned big lessons about our environmental impact and that we don't need to travel as much as we did in the past, thanks to digital alternatives, but in terms

of tradeshows like Premium in Germany, which of course had an impact, I think those will stay. That said, we learned, and I think everyone else did too, that digital showrooms are making an impact as well. So a crisis can also hold opportunities – I think many people have learned that as well. What observations have you been able to make that both impress you and leave you speechless? What really impressed me were the people, e.g. our partnerships and relationships with our customers and our vendors. And also how we got through this together and how we can build on this for the future. What left me speechless? That some people think this is all a conspiracy. I find that quite bizarre… Let’s go back to the industry then: where is the denim industry lacking new perspectives or the right ones? I love the denim industry – more than anybody – but the denim industry is too wrapped up in itself. Could you elaborate? Everybody is all wrapped up in this bubble and getting excited about denim, but people need to look beyond the denim window and see what’s going on outside. I did this myself by connecting with the whole sneaker culture. Our recent collaboration with Nike brought the sneaker and denim community together and the reaction was



Brains behind the Brands Jason Denham / founder & CCO at Denham

More space to grow new ideas: the new Denham HQ in Amsterdam.

crazy. It exploded. Our three different denim sneakers literally sold out in seconds. The hype, the demand, the energy and the passion for it were incredible and what I’ve learned from that whole experience was that the denim community needs to move on and do something else. If you look at sportswear, they think differently in all kinds of ways – not just about design and innovation, but also about how they talk to consumers and how they create unique products. The denim industry is incredible and will last forever but I do think that it needs to wake up a little bit.

We need to think more outside of the box and push things further – and I don’t mean the mills. How are the younger generations challenged to do better and what would you advise them? I think the younger generation has an incredible opportunity to change the game. The time is now. The traditional fashion calendar is changing, product assortment planning is changing, online and offline are rewriting the rule books. So young designers can come up with new and interesting ideas. But my advice: don’t think it’s too easy and don’t expect success to come quickly. It takes patience and persistence. Eat, sleep and breathe and love what you do every day. It doesn’t matter what you do: you have to love what you do and put everything into it. Success takes time.


Until young people take over the world, the denim sector is still challenged to become more and more sustainable. You’ve been working closely with Candiani recently. Can you share a few things that Denham is currently working on in terms of sustainability, sourcing and transparency? It’s a topic that we could talk about for hours or days. So here at Denham we break this topic down into five principles that give us a really strong cycle for the evolution of the denim. 1. Make high-quality products that last, in the best sustainable materials. 2. Only work with trusted, qualified vendors in long-term relationships. 3. Offer after-care service, like stitching and washing. 4. Offer a recycling service that enables cus tomers to bring back their old jeans to the stores. That’s important. 5. PCR (post-consumer recycle) – reuse the old fabrics. Behind the scenes of the denim industry, there is a lot going on with fabric and technological innovations, but denim seems to be quite slow when it comes to trends. What would you like to see more of in the market? We need to think more outside the box and push things further – and I don’t mean the mills. The last five years in denim development have been the fastest ever and they are doing an incredible job in creating new developments every season. Now it’s up to the designers and companies to do something different and exciting. That is going to be key for the future. We need

innovation in design. Be brave! Let’s push things forward. You definitely push things forward when it comes to collaborations and I think it’s safe to say that you’re the king of collabs. But your recent and, as mentioned, highly successful collection with Nike is not the end of it, is it? And what makes collaborations so interesting for business? It’s just great when brands can come together, as long as it’s meaningful and you make something cool. It is like a learning process for each other’s strengths. And we should never stop learning. I always connected with the brands we collaborated with, for example I’m a big Nike fan. Doing that collaboration was an incredible privilege. It was insane and amazing, and very rewarding for everybody involved. And the next team-up is already in the works: with Pro Hunter, the first company to personalise a range of limited-edition steel Rolex sports watches. So we’re going to customise Rolex watches with denim – that’s due out this Christmas. Is there anything you would really like to do in the future? A dream-come-true collaboration? The Nike collab was definitely a dream come true. And I’m already working on something for next year, which is very much a dream come true as well, but it’s still a little bit early to talk about it. But during COVID-19 we’ve noticed that our women’s line had an incredible response and is really working well, which is why we’ve also got some really cool collaborations coming up with that, which I’m incredibly excited about.

You’ve recently moved into your new headquarters with plenty of space to grow – so where is Denham heading to from here and how is your expansion in Asia progressing? Our new office is going to be our brand’s home for the next 15 years and we were lucky because the new headquarters are so big that in these times of corona we had enough space, meaning that socialdistancing hasn’t been an issue at all. But yes, we had big plans for 2020 and COVID-19 threw us all a curve ball. However, for Asia, we’ve nurtured slow steady organic growth in Japan for twelve years and we see a big opportunity for the future, whereas in China we are planning a flagship store in Chengdu for next year. And this will be the most exciting global flagship store to date. Speaking of 2020 plans: many people out there as still very concerned about what’s going on and are overwhelmed by the unpredictability of the situation. Do you have any reassuring words? The important thing is to just stay focused. That is what everybody is learning this time. A lot of companies have come back to their core product and what they’re very good at. We have done the same. We are a denim brand and focus on that by telling very clear stories about how we make our denim, where we do it and who it’s for. It’s important for people to continue to stick to what they do. Now is the time – more than ever – to keep positive, keep smiling and to just keep going. denham.com

www.espadrij.com | instagram.com/espadrij



AN ACT OF LOVE FOR ORIGINALITY Yume is the Japanese word for dream. And sometimes it must certainly feel like a dream come true for Yume Yume founders Eva Korsten and Dave Hendriks when they look back on the surprising commercial success of their still young women’s shoe brand. An interview with the brains behind the brand about brave design decisions, the vision of a recycling project and the dream of creating their own community.

Interview: Cheryll Mühlen, Photos: Ilsoo van Dijk

Macondo in Milan, Level Shoes Dubai, Dover Street Market in London, The Four-Eyed in Tokyo – Yume Yume’s list of stockists is impressive – after less than just two years on the market. Their unique shoes are sold alongside Comme des Garçons, JW Anderson and other high-profile fashion houses. This has put them in a desirable and, for some, enviable position, which Yume Yume seems to have embraced with extraordinary ease. Right from the beginning, the newcomer brand from Amsterdam, founded by Eva Korsten who is responsible for the design, and Dave Hendriks, who is responsible for sales, certainly haven’t shied away from making bold design statements that go beyond democratic shoe and sneaker trends. How did you come up with the brand? Dave: We were on holiday in the Philippines and needed to buy sandals but couldn’t find any normal ones anywhere. They were all either very commercial or very high end, with high prices to match. There was nothing in between so we thought about setting up our own brand that we could sell there. But your signature flip-flop draws inspiration from the traditional Japanese geta, and not from the Philippines. Why is that? Dave: We like Japan and the traditional silhouettes, so we kicked off the brand with the geta


sandal. Around five years ago, I launched Hi-Tec HTS74, where the main focus is on hiking and outdoor, which is why we also introduced the hiking sandal. We also started developing camping shoes and a new type of sandal called tyre slides that Eva came up with when she saw a folded tyre on the streets of Amsterdam. We just do what comes naturally to us. Eva: I’m really into art and sometimes something in my everyday life catches my eye, which I then use in my designs. Normal, regular things inspire me on a daily basis.

a piece of art. We really want to create something different and not just make it because it sells.

accepted and established, you need to replace it with something new and unique.

Your flip-flops are a good example of how to reinterpret heritage design in a modern way. Are you planning to on acknowledging more heritage designs with reinterpretations? Eva: Well, we developed the Suki during the process for the Japanese ‘Big City’ styles: it’s a little bit more chic but has the same shape. We are now trying to use that shape in more iconic pieces, e.g. the tyre slide will have the same sole shape so we can make lots of variations with it.

Apart from the hiking shoe perhaps, your shoes are more spring/summer than autumn/ winter… Dave: Yes, we originally kept it up as a summer brand but now we’ve developed the hiking story, which recently launched, and the camping shoe with a puffy, warm lining in order to be more suitable for winter. We can’t show you yet, but we have quite a few winter items coming up to make sure we have products for all year round.

I want people to even be a little bit scared of it.

Speaking of which, you also came up with a sneaker-sandal-hybrid, a hiking sandal and the camping sandal, which all have very bold designs. Why do you choose such unique designs in a world that bows down to democratic sneaker trends and how long can you stay exceptional? Eva: Dave and I had a lot of conversations about that because I always want to make something unique and let people wonder what that shoe is or even be a little bit scared of it. But Dave always reminds me that we also have to make shoes that will still sell, so it’s a fine line and you need to have the right balance. Dave: But our aim will always be to make exceptional things. If you look at art, it is also about evaluating and making progress. If something is

Your geta-style flip-flops quickly became a signature piece for your brand but what do you think makes a perfect flip-flop or a perfect shoe? Dave: I’ve been in the business for 15 years now and feel, especially in Holland, that there are a lot of brands that are purely motivated by what will sell well. I’m a commercial guy myself too, of course, but I love nice products with lots of detailing. So one of the key details for me when making a shoe is that it needs to be comfortable. We therefore treat every shoe and product we make as

We’re trying to set up a recycling scheme so people can send their used shoes back to us. For your SS21 collection, you said that “as a brand we have grown naturally. From a little seed that we planted, to a seedling, growing into a beautiful forest in the future. This collection is an ode to that and therefore works as an ode to this development.” Is sustainability a part of it? Eva: Sustainability is very important to us. We only use vegan leather and try to be as sustain-



Creativity at work: It’s obvious that the two founders’ aesthetic aspirations extend way beyond their shoe designs.

able as we can. We are always sourcing to make even the smallest elements of the collection sustainable, bio-based or recycled. Dave: The first time we were at Lineapelle, a leather fair in Italy, Eva got really upset because that was the first time she had seen all the leather hides lined up. Eva: As far as the eye could see. Around ten whole cowskins were just hanging there in a row. I thought it was awful. Dave: And that’s when we decided to use vegan leather only. Our functional linings are also all vegan. Eva: And as we’re a very young and new brand, the sustainable part comes naturally. Dave: We want to grow into it and as soon as the brand grows, we will get more access to used and recycled fabrics. (Dave turning to Eva) Can I talk about what we’re planning on recycling? Eva: Yes, I’ll let you say it! (laughing) Dave: (smiling) We’re trying to set up a recycling scheme so people can send their used shoes back to us. We found a factory that developed a machine where all the recycled shoes, flip-flops and slides go in and are turned into rubber soles. Now we’re trying to figure out how to install the recycling project within Yume Yume. The idea we’re thinking about is that with every pair of shoes they order, they’ll receive a return bag so they can send the shoes back to us when they’re done with them. But it’s still a work in progress.

But compared to the apparel industry, the shoe business is lagging way behind. So every further step in a sustainable direction – including raising awareness among consumers – is an important one, recycling services included. Eva: We noticed that many factories in Portugal and Italy are actually working very hard on sustainability. It is becoming key to the supply chain – or in European production at least. Dave: Exactly. That’s why we’re currently putting a lot of work into it and focusing on executing it in the future. But the footwear industry is making huge steps right now. The discussions are way ahead and factories can now actually show and prove that they produce recycled materials thanks to certification. Before it was just: “Yeah, we recycle”. But there was no proof really. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: COVID-19. How did the pandemic affect you and your brand – especially as a newcomer? Dave: Honestly, for us, as a smaller brand, we can easily adapt. We don’t buy huge quantities of stock and bring a lot of shoes on the market at the same time. So for us it was actually pretty easy to work around or with the crisis. The only struggle, from a commercial perspective, is that some stores that we spoke with said: “We love the brand and we love the shoes, but for now we aren’t buying new stock”.

Eva: They don’t want to take the risk. Dave: Yes, the risk of buying into a new brand. Production-wise, we had a few Italian suppliers that went bankrupt, so we had to find new materials that were similar and get back to production. But in general, the brand is growing, we have the right stores and we still have new stores showing an interest. So all in all, luckily, we’re doing fine. Eva: Our small size was a blessing in disguise. Dave: Yes, it’s the big guys who are experiencing bigger problems. Despite putting out the small fires on a daily basis, we should still give ourselves the chance to dream about the future: where would you like to be selling your shoes one day? Dave: It’s our dream to open our own Yume Yume institute – not only somewhere to sell shoes but maybe even collaborate with students and make it more of an educational thing. Eva: An institute where everyone can create their own brands or gain insights from people who actually have their own brands. We want to build a community with people that are a good fit for us and give them a home where they can learn and chill. A community can also be established by people identifying with the brand’s aesthetic. Are you planning on doing apparel to widen your portfolio one day?

Eva: We’ve already started… kind of. Dave: But it’s not commercial yet. We created one art piece, one jacket to be precise, during the first lockdown here in Amsterdam. We had a lot of discussions about whether to do it or not because we got a lot of requests from stores that wanted to have that jacket. But Eva wanted to focus on the shoes first, make the jacket an art piece and show people what we can do. But maybe in three, four years? I don’t know. I can imagine doing a range of clothes as a sideline that fits in with the brand image. But we will focus on the shoes first because making a good product takes time and patience. Right now, the jacket simply represents our creativity, for installations and visibility rather than for commercial purposes. Eva: It’s our way of storytelling. With you, Eva, seeking creative challenges, and you, Dave, also being involved with HiTec, will we ever get to see a collaboration between HTS74 and Yume Yume one day? Dave: I don’t think so! (laughing) But I could imagine working with an international museum. We’re also open to collaborating with brands if it’s the right fit but for now we are in talks about doing a collaboration with a museum – that would be definitely be a dream come true. yumeyume.eu



tradeshows 2020/2021

A LOOK BACK WITH AN EYE TO THE FUTURE When it comes to the crunch, we simply don’t know what autumn and winter holds for us all. The second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe is already well and truly underway. Infection rates are rising again and as far as planning for the upcoming tradeshows is concerned, the current coronavirus forecasts are devastating. Despite that, tradeshows like Neonyt, Innatex and Pitti Uomo are still scheduled to go ahead and the industry is expressing a desperate need to meet again in person. So it’s worth examining the tradeshow scene of 2020 in order to determine the potential for 2021.

Credit: Imaxtree

Text: Cynthia Blasberg



Tradeshows 2020/2021

“The entire month of January depends on the developments surrounding COVID-19.” Thimo Schwenzfeier

“We need a “It felt like one big collective exhale.” Alexander Hitzel

reliable set of rules that will enable us to plan with greater certainty.” Arnd Hinrich Kappe

We used to be in charge of our own destinies – in both our personal and professional lives. But all that has changed since the pandemic became the boss of us. In some ways, it has even made us pioneers against our will and forced us to improvise and become more innovative, which is giving rise to new ideas. But more than anything, it has opened the doors to a virtual reality. Back on 23 March, Kingpins was the first show to announce it would be doing a digital event – Kingpins24 in April. And after a second round in June, it is due to happen for a third time in October (see our interview with Andrew Olah on page 33). And after all their shows for 2020 were cancelled, Pitti also successfully launched a digital platform, Pitti Connect, in June. With a line-up of fashion feeds, chats and order options, it remained online for three months. Tools like matching functions for buyers and constantly updated reports on trends that were full of data were well received and it was announced that Pitti Connect would be firmly integrated into the Pitti Uomo schedule for January 2021. But the physical tradeshow has been shortened by one day. As Agostino Poletto, General Manager of Pitti Immagine, explains: “The decision to shorten the winter edition of Pitti Uomo from four days to three is our way of acknowledging the fragile transition phase that we are seeing and that is being experienced by production and retail companies all over the world, not only in Italy.” But the fact that a physical version of Pitti is even up for discussion is mainly down its wide-reaching safety measures, based on government regulations and advice from the local health authorities. Without hygiene precautions, physical distancing rules and supervisory bodies, any kind of event is unthinkable. Several tradeshows, such as Fabric Days (see our interview with Sebastian Klinder on page 37) and Innatex, have already been able to gain experience in that respect. In Germany, Muveo was one of the first events to hold a tradeshow – the 47th edition of Innatex – in compliance with coronavirus-related health and safety measures. “After all this time, exhibitors and buyers really needed another

industry event and a sign that things are moving again. It felt like one big collective exhale. But most of all, we proved that we were willing to take on the burden of the risk, fulfil the requirements and of course also the higher costs. And that was something a lot of people really appreciated,” sums up Muevo Project Manager Alexander Hitzel. The modest size of the sustainable tradeshow might have played a role in how smoothly it all went. “It’s definitely a structural advantage that we’re not a global player, but a relatively small organiser with an uncomplicated decision-making structure. That makes us flexible. We were able to react to the constantly changing regulations put in place by the government at short notice.” Constant dialogue with the health experts from the local authorities is a new aspect of the trade fair business. But not a guarantee for a successful tradeshow. Just under 40 kilometres from the Innatex venue, ILM was cancelled by the city of Offenbach a week before it was due to take place. This was because the incidence rate increased to 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The health of the general public comes first, there’s no doubt about that – but it’s also hard to follow the logic when Innatex was allowed to take place from 5 – 7 September in Hofheim-Wallau, just 40 kilometres away. ILM Managing Director Arnd Hinrich Kappe has entered into talks with Hesse’s State Premier Volker Buffier to standardise such decisions regionally in the future. “The decision to cancel ILM was made by the head of the city of Offenbach’s health department. At the time of its cancellation, the incidence rate was 50, which was mainly due to the high numbers of holidaymakers returning home. But by the time ILM was supposed to take place, the number had fallen to under 30.” Nevertheless, ILM is still looking optimistically towards the future and has already released the dates for the next edition in March 2021. And they are also planning a new format. In the words of Arnd Hinrich Kappe: “Coinciding with Frankfurt Fashion Week in summer, we are launching a new

concept, XOD – Xtra Order Days. And Offenbach is already on board.” But before the fashion crowd descends on Frankfurt this coming summer, the matter of the final Premium and Neonyt in Berlin is still up in the air. While the Premium Group is still keeping its cards close to its chest (read our interview with Anita Tillmann on page 32), the date for sustainability hub Neonyt has already been set: under the motto ‘Together. Now and here.’ the winter edition is still due to take place from 19 – 21 January 2021 in Berlin. Following the relocation to Tempelhof in January 2020, a lot of people were really looking forward to also attending the summer edition there. But instead, due to COVID-19, Neonyt also went digital. With its partners The Brand Show Circular and Joor, the organisers have developed a concept to offer exhibitors a digital showroom. And during ‘Neonyt On Air’ it was also possible to follow the talks on the tradeshow’s social media channels. In January 2021, they want to shift the focus back to the physical version. But the location still hasn’t been confirmed. Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt: “We still haven’t finalised the location in Berlin – but we’re in talks and currently checking several event venues, including Tempelhof, to assess whether they can comply with COVID regulations and all the necessary health, safety and organisational measures. The final decision depends very much on the current developments and the government’s decisions regarding visitor numbers at large-scale events and tradeshows.” Incidence rates, high-risk areas and quarantine rules are changing on a daily basis so it’s pretty much impossible to make a final statement about the upcoming winter tradeshows right now. But in a certain setting, tradeshows are possible, as long as the suitable hygiene and safety measures are in place to protect all exhibitors and visitors. Innatex and Fabric Days have proven that. But the government really needs to step up to the mark and give tradeshow organisers, exhibitors and visitors – i.e. the entire industry – the opportunity to plan with greater certainty over the coming months.



Tradeshows Premium

We are monitoring the current infection rates and are in contact with the Berlin authorities. anita tillmann


“WE’VE ACHIEVED AND EXPERIENCED A LOT.” An inclusive Fashion Week for B2B, B2C and B2P – that’s Anita Tillmann’s wish for Frankfurt Fashion Week. But before everyone heads there in summer 2021, we still need to say goodbye to Berlin – pandemic permitting, of course. We asked the Premium Group’s managing director whether or not they have a plan B in place. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

The merry-go-round keeps turning and lots of people are long-ing for January, but before we start talking about the future, how did your ‘Premium + Seek Passport’ event go? The aim was to create a digital event that focused on communication value, and it was a great success. A network of 200,000 buyers were reached, over 20,000 visits recorded and more than 80,000 products sold. Our brands that actively involved their own networks and communications channels experienced particularly good results. The channel doesn’t just work by itself. It’s like physical, face-to-face encounters: not every potential client at a trade fair can be converted directly into a buyer. The success of this activation depends on a wide range of factors and isn’t always easy to calculate directly. In the end, for us it was a confirmation that it is certainly easier, more enjoyable and more satisfying to meet people in person. With an impressive presentation, a fantastic product – and a smile! The demand for the industry to all get together is greater than ever. Looking back to June when the bombshell news was announced: how did it feel when everyone was talking about the announcement about Frankfurt Fashion Week? The process of coming up with event formats and then implementing them is part of our core expertise. We’ve already coordinated and put on so many trade fairs and events – in Berlin, Munich, as well as in Paris and NYC, so in that sense the process was routine for us. But the news had major implications. For me, it was a logical and necessary step that was a result of the overall situation of the sector. Like when we decided in 2002 not to launch Premium in Düsseldorf and move to a fresh location like Berlin instead. Back then, however, the risk was much greater and we had no standing on the market and little experience. The situation is very different now. But when the press release about Frankfurt Fashion Week came out I was full of anticipation, like a little kid, waiting for the reaction. But the echo throughout the sector – national and international – was extremely positive and approving, which I am very satisfied with. January is only a few months away and the initial preparations are no doubt already in full swing, but recent months have shown that the trade fair situation can turn on a dime. There are some who are still reckoning with the worst outcomes and


worry that Premium won’t be able to go ahead in January. What is your plan B? These are crazy times and it is very difficult to plan anything. Currently we are conducting a survey with exhibitors, partners and retailers so that we can make representative decisions based on data and feedback. We are monitoring the current infection rates and are in contact with the relevant Berlin authorities in terms of possible concepts and regulations. At the end of October we will know more as to whether the Premium and Seek will be taking place in January and in what shape or form, and only then can we really make a definitive statement. Let’s assume the best-case scenario: in our last interview you said: “We won’t go without saying goodbye.” Can you give us an initial idea of what that means or is it still too early to talk about plans, events and the general direction? We had planned a retrospective look back at the past 20 years and a view to what the network and the sector can expect in Frankfurt, who the players are etc. Basically a massive party, because looking back we really did have a lot of fun there. We celebrated great milestones and also learnt from our mistakes. Many brands were discovered at our events or grew up with us and they would all have loved to have come. We’ve achieved and experienced a lot. But despite all that, it’s simply impossible to plan anything right now. The fact that so many people from the sector expressed their dismay at Premium and Seek leaving Berlin is testament to how important your format is as an important pillar of the Berlin fashion scene. You’re not anti-Berlin but actually quite positive about the city and also choose to live there. What opportunities could arise for the German fashion capital when the Premium Group moves its activities to Frankfurt from summer 2021? We will still be keeping our offices in Berlin and are just moving our event formats to Frankfurt. Inevitably there will be partners and agencies in Berlin who will lose their contracts with us – that’s not easy for us and we feel bad about it. Nevertheless, we will be kicking off new projects there and continue to activate our Berlin

network as much as possible. I would love it for something to develop in Berlin that suits the city and the local scene. The fashion world is in the process of reinventing itself – not only digitally, even though there are quantum leaps taking place right now. What developments are you keeping a particularly close eye on? Digitalisation allows our industry to make supply chains more efficient and transparent. There’s still a lot of potential. In the next step we need to find answers to how we can make the industry more sustainable in terms of fair working conditions, environmental impact, etc. That is exactly what FFW’s themes are across all our formats – Applied Digitisation and Applied Sustainability. This is where the core expertise of the Premium Group and Messe Frankfurt intersect. As the Premium Group, we are experts in fashion and digitalisation with Premium, Seek and our Fashiontech format. Messe Frankfurt stands for textile expertise, with Neonyt expressing the drive towards sustainability. We are bringing these synergies together and will present the industry with a newly conceived format. The branch has had to get used to quite a few new things in a short space of time and, as we know, hope springs eternal, but nevertheless insecurity is hanging like the sword of Damocles above many people’s heads. Do you have an encouraging message, battle cry or mantra for our readers? Something that gives us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel? Change always brings new chances and opportunities. Although the current situation represents an even greater challenge to our industry than usual, what we are taking away from the crisis is a new sense of solidarity. We see that as strong, positive momentum for everything that is to come. Which is exactly what we want to create in Frankfurt: an inclusive Fashion Week for B2B, B2C and B2P that will set new benchmarks and bring us all forward and closer together again. premiumexhibitions.com seekexhibitions.com


Tradeshows Kingpins

I really love those capsule Kingpins, they make me so happy. ANDREW OLAH


NO BOUNDARIES Andrew Olah and his Kingpins Show team have proven this year that they are adaptable, fearless and optimistic. After the show was cancelled in April at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the experienced organiser reacted promptly by setting up the digital format Kingpins24, which will be taking place for the third time at the end of October – and, according to Andrew Olah, will be even better than before. In an interview, he is telling us why this will be the case and also explaining what mistakes have to do with success. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

It’s been quite a ride for us all. How would you sum up the last few months? Oh… (thinking). I would say it was basically a never-ending list of unexpected circumstances. Speaking of unexpected: you reacted pretty quickly by establishing Kingpins24… We had always thought about doing things online, but we were never pushed and never really had to. But once Kingpins couldn’t happen physically anymore, it was the perfect time to experiment online. Because there was nothing to lose. The worst that could happen is that people think it’s terrible. But isn’t this exactly why people are hesitant about trying new things? Because people could find it terrible? We are a company with a culture where we really don’t mind public humiliation! (smiling) I think that some of us feel that we’re not terribly stressed about failure.

Vietnam, from Myanmar and from Greenland all in one interview. So there were literally no more boundaries – neither with regard to the people we spoke to nor in terms of time constraints, because it meant we could now pre-record it. It was limitless. If you’re on a 747, it will take you three and a half hours to fly over the western part of Canada and you would see nothing but flat land with nothing on it. It’s an endless kind of process and this is kind of how I felt. It reminded me that we had unlimited potential when it comes to webinars. And now of course, everybody is doing it, so we have to look at it in a different way. And talking of Canada, how was the Kingpins24 Canada edition? We were delighted with Canada. It was really, really fun. And we want to do it again in other countries. Like Australia, for example, and I’d also love to hold events in Italy and Germany; I really love those capsule Kingpins, they make me so happy.

So what have you learned from your Kingpins24 failures? A tremendous amount. First of all: how to do it or how not to do it – which is always really important. We learned that two or three hours are much more digestible than eleven hours times two. And now we’re learning how to mix things up and each time we do it we learn something. We fail too. Every time you do something new you fail, but you have to be grateful for that because that’s conducive to learning. And we learned that webinars or seminars were much better digitally than they were in person.

You’ve come a long way since then – you’ve been online in Canada recently and will return with the Amsterdam edition soon – what can we expect from the forthcoming edition? Any new lessons? New speakers? Do you have any surprises up your sleeves? It’s going to be four days and each day is going to be three hours, starting at 10 am, ending at 1 pm. We’ve divided it up into subjects: the first one is going to be inspiration, creative inspiration. The second day will be innovation, the third day is people and the fourth day will be about raw materials, so basically like four little chapters.

Can you explain why? There are two reasons for that: if you do a seminar live, of course it’s great and fun for the audience, but it’s a very tiny proportion of the people I would like to be watching. So if we have a seminar at Kingpins and 120 people attend, that’s really good, but when we did our Kingpins24 we had 650 people in the seminar and when we made it on-demand online, we had another 500 people. So from a learning point of view, we were over the moon to be making an impact by reaching 1,100 people and maybe 5,000 people one day. Because we want to provide information. And it doesn’t cost the viewers anything and we’re giving them an opportunity to learn and to see people that they might otherwise not see. Also, if we do a physical show, our guests are limited by location. But we learned that we can have guests from all over the world when we do it online. We can have someone from Ecuador, from

You’ve been quite busy and will launch Kingpins Exchange by the end of the month. What we can expect? We’ve been thinking about doing a digital platform for years because I realised that at the end of every meeting, everybody was making notes about what the customer wanted, and the customer was making notes about what they wanted, as if it’s 1922 or something! And then four to six days later we started to e-mail each other, trying to clarify our notes! (laughing) So I wondered if we could replace the taking notes at the end of every meeting with just providing data. Plus, so much about our industry is antiquated: I realised that if I were a customer, I might not want to have a salesman visit me. I would just like to be able to see a little video that explains the concept and the chance to browse on my own. Why does the salesman have to go there to explain something that could be explained on a video? A great amount of time could be saved if people could

actually present their collections properly in a digital format. Those were the things we thought about well before COVID-19. And when COVID-19 hit, in order to survive companies had to show their products on Zoom and they were a) uncomfortable and b) inexperienced; the whole process was new to them and I thought that this might be the perfect time for the idea that I’d been thinking about all these years. The digital development over the last few months has been incredible and shows us that our industry can move forward if it has to, but people are still really insecure and wondering where tradeshows will find their place in the future. What is your take on that? I see them as being very similar to before. People will love them even more than before because we’ve been all away from groups for so long. Of course you can network by e-mail and you can network by chat but nothing comes close to the face-to-face human experience. I think there will be less visitors but not less companies. A company that maybe sent eight people to Kingpins will send two in future but will have 16 people go online. So yes, less people will show up, but not less companies, and I expect to see more people online. We’re feeling really positive about it all. When do you think there will be another physical Kingpins Show? 65 percent in October 2021, and 35 percent in April 2022 – that’s my honest opinion. I think it’s almost impossible to hold one in April 2021. Despite a positive mindset, the crisis demands something different from everyone, and it is certainly not easy for everyone to stay hopeful for better times. What is your message to our readers? It’s going to be over soon. Try to relax and enjoy this period wherever you can. Of course, from a business point of view, not everybody can just relax and enjoy it because many people lost their jobs or companies and it shouldn’t be treated lightly – but at the same time, we’re never going to have a period like this again. We can be home with our families and do things that we normally couldn’t do. But it will all blow over eventually. It’s not going to become a new way of life. The best explanation I heard about this crisis was: sometimes when you farm, you have storms and the storm actually ruins your entire crop. When that happens: do you stop farming? What you do is try to get yourself reorganised and ready for the next season. In this particular case, we might have two harvests that are destroyed, or three, but at the end of the day, it’s the same business, it’s the same thing. kingpinsshow.com



Tradeshows Welcome Edition Showroom

I noticed that this situation also brought out a lot of good in people, which was encouraging to witness. mark batista

Mark Batista, founder of Welcome Edition Showroom

STRONGER THAN BEFORE Like pretty much every event in 2020, Mark Batista’s Welcome Edition Showroom was directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why he decided to change tack and move things online – with great success. But now it’s time for Welcome Edition to return to its physical form and a new location is also on the cards: for January 2021, plans are being made to hold Welcome Edition Showroom at Kami Hashemi’s B74 store in Frankfurt. In our interview, Mark Batista is telling us how they both came into contact, what kind of feedback his digital showroom received and how he is managing to stay positive about the current situation. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

Mark, how have you been doing the last few months? All things considered, pretty okay. The initial trauma of finding out that every store we dealt with was having to close for months on end was a huge concern. But going online was the saving grace for a lot of businesses in our sector, with some even trading better than ever before. You launched your digital Welcome Edition Showroom in June. How did it go and will you be continuing on the digital path in the future? Most of the feedback from buyers and brands was positive. Those who fully embraced it placed orders, used it as a vehicle for communicating and utilised the online showroom as their main buying and selling resource for AW21. Both buyers and sellers benefitted from picking up new accounts and brands in the same way you would at a tradeshow or physical showroom. The other day a well-respected agency even told us that they’ve had a great season thanks to our Welcome Edition Online Showroom. That was really nice to hear. You’ve also come up with something new and will be organising a small show in Frankfurt with Kami Hashemi at


his B74 store. Tell us: how did you two end up meeting and how did you come up with the idea of doing a show together? We were actually looking to launch Welcome Edition Showroom in Frankfurt and London, adding these locations to the current Paris event. I then spoke to my old friend Pierre D’Aveta from J’N’C about opening a Frankfurt showroom with some of the Welcome Edition collections and he highly recommended speaking to Kami. So we flew over from London, I met Kami and immediately hit it off with him. He very kindly showed us around his incredible B74 store, which has the showroom space below it, and we instantly knew it was right for us. For this Welcome Edition Showroom, we intend to showcase a focused and concise selection of what we have been doing in Paris for the last three years. Can you already tell us anything about it, like who the exhibitors will be? Yes. We will be located in the showroom space that I just mentioned, below B74 in Frankfurt. We will have great brands exhibiting, such as Filson, Denham and Barbour but the full list of collections joining us is available to view on the website.

What else will be on your 2021 schedule – provided, of course, that everything goes to plan? Definitely The Welcome Edition Showroom in Paris, Frankfurt and London. New York was actually in the pipeline pre-COVID, but we are putting that on hold for the moment. You’ve probably been watching the industry just as closely as everyone else these past few months – is there anything that surprised you positively, or that perhaps even left you speechless during the whole coronavirus crisis so far? I noticed that this situation also brought out a lot of good in people – there was a lot of willingness to help and support others, which was encouraging to witness. Unfortunately, it did bring out the worst too, but the positives seem to have outweighed the bad. I hope that people’s helpful approach continues. We’re all facing new challenges, but how do you stay focused and positive despite the current circumstances? Daily exercise, a healthy diet, a positive attitude. Don’t get me wrong, when lockdown began it was a mental battle not to go under almost daily but staying focused has enabled us to see where there can be opportunity and to come out of the other side stronger. welcomeeditionshowroom.com

06.– 08.03.2021





We are giving both segments the opportunity to showcase their collections together. ulrike kähler

Ulrike Kähler, Managing Director of Igedo Company & Project Director of Gallery Fashion & Gallery Shoes

NO FEAR OF A RETURN Back at the end of April, Igedo Company pooled its Gallery Fashion, Gallery Shoes and Showroom concepts together with the aim of getting another physical industry event off the ground as quickly as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. And it turned out to be the right decision. And at the beginning of September, Ulrike Kähler, Managing Director of Igedo Company and Project Director, was able to look back on a safe tradeshow event that attracted good visitor numbers. In our interview she is giving us a glimpse behind the scenes and appealing for more courage. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

The past few months have been a real roller-coaster ride. How are the preparations for Gallery Fashion & Shoes going? Where should I begin and where should I end? I worked really hard on this event for a good five months and during that time we dealt with everything that came our way, including the cancellation of the July event. So it wasn’t easy to boldly charge headfirst into planning a September event. That’s why I found the preparation phase extremely arduous. It was very important to me to remain in close personal contact with my customers because I wanted to explain our concept and the new combined platform to them and also allay any fears they may have been having. We also had to draw up and submit a health and safety concept of what felt like 364 pages – in close coordination with the authorities and in even closer coordination with the venue and the safety officers. We basically had to plan everything all over again – the walkways, the booth layout, the hygiene measures. With all those preparation efforts weighing on your mind, what was your personal experience of the previous edition? I was very happy when it finally got underway. We ended up being one of the last fairs to take place before lockdown, but the first ones to emerge again after the chaos. On the first morning of Gallery Fashion & Shoes I was standing at the entrance and was surprised that so many exhibitors were still wandering around outside – until my team told me that they were all visitors who were waiting to be let in. A few hours later someone told me what the latest visitor numbers were and I still couldn’t believe that they were talking purely about the number of visitors – not even including the exhibitors and service providers. It made me really happy to see people coming, meeting up and greeting each other, all while being very disciplined. But we also


set a great example on our side. Everyone was scanned upon entering and leaving. The areas were cleaned constantly, which gave visitors a good feeling that everything was safe and under control. And we were able to give the industry the opportunity to showcase their brands and collections and therefore also show that a live event is more important than ever before. That was really encouraging for me. Equipped with this optimism from your most recent event, what are you anticipating for 2021? And perhaps even next March? We made the most of the opportunity during the crisis by not sticking with a classic fashion event but combining our events into a special format. This gave fashion customers the opportunity to present their collections at a later date, on what would have usually been the Gallery SHOES date, and to profit from that accordingly. And that’s something we want to build on. How exactly? We’ll definitely be keeping the four dates a year, always with a focus on ordering, but we are giving both segments the opportunity to showcase their collections together. Prior to that I wouldn’t have even dared to think about doing a joint fashion and shoes event, each with a different focus, so quickly. But one of the things September has shown me is that our accessories exhibitors really profit from the shoe brands. It makes them see each other in a totally different way. So for that reason we will be keeping the four-date

concept, with an early ordering date that always has a fashion focus and a later one that always has a focus on shoes. We hope that people will keep an open mind and have a think about where they can increase their buyer base and generate new customers. Boosted by all this encouragement, renewed courage and new concepts, what would your appeal to the market and all the people out there be? Fear is a terrible companion during times like these. No one should be saying out of fear: “I’m not doing it. I’m not going there. I’m not coming. I don’t want to take part.” Of course we all need to be careful and not underestimate the situation – on the contrary, in fact. But despite that, you shouldn’t let fear prevail and simply wait it out in your store or just tell yourself that you’ll come next time instead, because by then a whole new season will have passed. We always respond to each exhibitor individually, meeting them halfway and also trying to help them financially wherever we can. So I am calling on you all to get involved and go to these events! That’s the only way to free the mind of all those worries. And only then will you be able to see new things and make new contacts. Because that’s not always possible via digital formats. Getting together at tradeshows in person is an absolute must for the industry. gallery-duesseldorf.com gallery-shoes.com



We still don’t even know what kind of far-reaching changes the pandemic will bring. Sebastian klinder

Sebastian Klinder, Managing Director of Munich Fabric Start

FOCUS ON FABRICS With its Fabric Days event, Munich Fabric Start has proven that it can adapt to the current situation and continue offering an important get-together for the textile industry. In January 2021, the organisers are following on from this successful alternative concept. We asked Sebastian Klinder to tell us what they have planned for next year. Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

As the first fabric fair to take place after the lockdown, Fabric Days sent out a positive signal for physical tradeshows. How did it feel for you to attend a tradeshow again and what did you learn from it that you will be putting into practice at Fabric Days next year? After a few very turbulent months and many cancelled events, of course it felt really good to be back in personal contact with the industry. And I think that this was hugely apparent and visible among everyone who attended. We are incredibly happy and grateful that we have been able to set a prime example with Fabric Days and to show others how things can be done under these new circumstances. The resoundingly positive feedback and strong backing from both exhibitors and visitors are spurring us on to plan future events – based, of course, on our tried-andtested safety and hygiene concept and with regard to the new circumstances. The main thing we learnt from it was to remain flexible in the face of daily changing requirements. But also to take into consideration any individual concerns caused by the current situation and the realisation that we all need to close ranks and pull together. The tradeshow situation hasn’t changed, which is making it extremely difficult to plan anything – especially now that travel restrictions and high-risk regions are complicating the situation even further. Open communication is currently the only thing the industry can rely on. In terms of transparency and solidar-

ity, how do you think the tradeshow sector has handled things so far? We are in constant dialogue with our partners and exhibitors – and this is something we are also seeing in the rest of the industry. At the moment, we are being reminded of the importance of longstanding partnerships and synergies that are based on trust and loyalty. The tradeshow sector is also openly discussing the problems and challenges it is currently facing. We’re all exchanging ideas and supporting each other where we can. A very positive development, which also bodes well for the future. What surprised or impressed you during the last few months and what are you feeling sceptical about? We are particularly impressed by the huge flexibility and adaptability of the entire industry. Not to mention the whole community spirit and also how natural it is becoming to concentrate on what really matters – both at work and in our personal lives. But at the same time, we are also really pleased about the feedback we have received from many creatives in the past few months about how important our tradeshows and physical events are when it comes to immersing yourself in the world of textiles. Of course this appreciation makes us very happy, even though we still don’t even know

what kind of far-reaching changes the pandemic will bring or what traditions and institutions could fall by the wayside in the long term. Fabric Days is scheduled to take place in January and we hope for everyone’s sakes that it will be able to go ahead, but as I said before, the unpredictable nature of the pandemic is a trade fair organiser’s biggest enemy. Does an alternative event like Fabric Days have a plan B in place and if so, to what extent will this alternative be further developed? With the previous editions of Fabric Days, we proved, despite the huge challenges, that a professional trade fair is still possible in times of COVID-19 – and we achieved this together with our team and by pooling our strengths. We have shown that we can adapt ourselves to changing circumstances flexibly and reliably. With our extensive hygiene and safety concept as the foundation, we are now planning the second edition of Fabric Days for 26 – 28 January 2020. That is our plan B in these unprecedented times. We are just focusing on what we do best. fabric-days.com munichfabricstart.com



The last Word Massimo Pigozzo / Creative Director at Barena Venezia

The last word … belongs to Massimo Pigozzo, Creative Director at Barena Venezia Since 1993, Barena Venezia has been synonymous with sartorial streetwear and the finest Italian traditions. The creative director of its menswear line, Massimo Pigozzo, has had a significant impact on the timeless design hallmarks of the family-managed company, which effortlessly moves between heritage, contemporary trends and innovative curiosity, and aims to bridge contemporary innovation and profound traditional craftsmanship. His work is a reflection of the ‘barena’ and centuries of Veneto artistry.

Interview: Cheryll Mühlen

What makes Barena Venezia such a one-of-akind brand? The fact that Barena is still a family business and that the spirit behind it is still the same allows us to create what we like best – but without betraying the inspiring principles such as quality in all processes and a deep bond with the local area, history and the people of the Venetian lagoon. Style, aesthetics, but also unique flair and effortless elegance – these are all characteristics that make Italian design renowned the world over. Why do you think Italian craftsmanship is so outstanding? I believe that the advantage relates to a natural attitude for ‘doing new things’ without betraying the classic traditions, combined with a centuriesold history of small artisan businesses which, in Italy, and especially in the area where I live, have developed in-depth knowledge and expertise. If the brand were a man, how would you describe him? Cultured and mature with an appreciation for quality of life. Someone who is free from the obligations dictated by fashion and the classic formal dress code. Clothing is not his number one priority, but he loves to add his own flourishes as and when he chooses to. As the creative director for menswear, you not only influenced the style of many men out there but also the design language of Barena


Venezia itself – right from the very beginning. What has changed the most since then? Basically, the language of the Barena collections hasn’t changed much, but there is a lot to tell. When we started, we wanted to represent the everyday life of people who lived and still live in this mystical place that is Venice and we wanted to do it by newly interpretating garments used by fishermen, hunters, farmers, but also merchants and Venetian nobles. We did this by cooperating with small local artisans, who still work with us to this day. From the very beginning, however, I wanted the product to be contemporary, not a reconstruction of traditional costumes, so the concept of comfort of use, utility and classic elegance is still fundamental.

A natural attitude for ‘doing new things’ without betraying the classic traditions. Looking back, what do you miss most in fashion nowadays? I miss the Massimo Osti era. In my opinion he was the most important innovator in sportswear textiles and in general, his pioneering way of creating by experimenting is the closest to mine in Barena (within the limits of a small family business).

And what is better today than in the past? It’s hard to say. I continue to hope that in the age of global information there will be a greater sense of ethics and a greater sensitivity towards ecological issues and disproportionate consumption. But I have a feeling that it’s still not working how it should be. Which menswear pieces look great on women? A formal tailormade blazer and suit. And womenswear pieces you would love to see on men – redesigned or reinterpreted? Pyjama-style trousers and blouses. Let’s talk about your life as a designer: what does a working day in the life of Massimo Pigozzo look like? Creating new collections makes up the majority of my work but because we are a family-run company I oversee everything. I am directly involved in all production and commercial processes. What is your most favourite part of the job or the design process? The main part of the creative process is the idea and experimentation in the laboratory. In the company we have a small tailor’s workshop and the technology to create all the prototypes. Another important part is the experimentation on fabrics (dyes, washes etc.) which has been in Barena's DNA since the very first collections.

You must be asked this question a lot, but what truly inspires you? My main source of inspiration is memory, especially of the period of my childhood, but also of the way of dressing and the changes from the late 60s and through the entire 70s and 80s. I let the memories flow naturally. Precise and real or altered by time, we are always the result of what we have been. Do you have an all-time favourite Barena Venezia piece? Yes, the raw-edge jersey blazer was the first successful item of the collection. It is a garment that I had wanted since the first collection, but it took us a year because there were no suitable materials. At that time, Barena was the only company to offer this type of product, which went on to become a must-have in men’s collections and wardrobes. Italy was hit extremely hard by the virus. How did you experience the COVID-19 crisis and what did you do to distract yourself during the lockdown? Of course it was a big blow that has forced us to find new solutions and methods. For me personally, my life during lockdown was very quiet. I live in the countryside and love taking care of my garden and flowers, so the time I spent at home was a unique opportunity to focus on zen activities like that. barenavenezia.com

Denim for every season

1 - 4 Feb. 2021 Paris le Bourget, France www.texworld-paris.com

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