Denim Day by Sportswear International
Denim Day by Sportswear International

18 Jan. 2011


Coming together in Berlin on the eve of Bread & butter, a range of denim experts gathered for the Denim Day, Sportswear International’s first conference dedicated to the denim industry.

Chairman Klaus N. Hang, Editor-at-Large, Sportswear International, introduced the event kicking off with the presentation of Karl-Heinz Müller, President Bread & butter and owner of Berlin-based store 14 oz. Summarizing the history of Bread & butter celebrating this year the show’s 10th anniversary, Müller explained how the fair has developed from its inception in 2001 in Cologne via Barcelona to the present day back in Berlin. “We never stand still. For us, this is just the beginning,” he commented. “It was not always easy for us, though we made it and we are happy to stay here and hope to remain in Berlin for many years to come.”

Sabine Kühnl, Editor-in-Chief, Sportswear International, unveiled some of the publication’s most recent and future initiatives such as the third edition volume of The Denim Bible and a soon-to-be-launched Sportswear InternationaI iPad application.

Following was a presentation by trend consultants Amy Leverton and Helen Job of Stylesight about upcoming jeanswear main directions including the rebel youth trend and heritage and hobo-chic. Next up, UK-based ‘denim hunter’ Leon Keyworth gave an insight into his work, which encompasses in-depth research such as cooking denim samples in the oven and burying jeans under a pile of stones for years - anything to develop new denim trends and inspire his long list of denim clients.

The topic of generation Z, or the so-called Facebook generation, followed next. Presented by Axel Dammler, CEO of Iconkids & Youth International Research and GmbH, the talk focused on the essentials behind captivating the new generation of denim consumers. G-Star’s Shubhankar Ray followed explaining the Dutch brand´s own evolution in terms of product and marketing strategies introducing the next ad campaign shot by Anton Corbijn featuring actress Gemma Arterton and chess champion Magnus Carlsen, as well as other communicative platforms such as the Raw Nights, a series of events held at international hot spots like London, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.

The first discussion of the event dealt with the controversial topic of “Washes vs Laser”. Taking part were Jason Denham (Denham), Nigel Cabourn (Nigel Cabourn), Francois Girbaud (M+F Girbaud), Enrique Silla (Jeanologia), Michael Silver (Silver Jeans). The overall consensus was perfectly summed up by Silla: “To wash a pair of jeans, you need at least hundreds litres of water and 150grams of chemical substances. We all have to reduce it by half, and using laser treatments is the way for it.” The substitution of laser technique could bring a significant change though not all speakers agreed that laser beats washes. The most committed and undisputed pioneer in this direction is Francois Girbaud who has experimented with various sustainable techniques since the mid 1980s.

Maurizio Donadi, Levi´s XX, offered a somehow abstract take on the brand’s return to ‘cool’ asserting that Levi’s goal is not about being fashion-forward but rather to push high-quality and expert-executed products.

To continue the round of speakers, industry icon Miles Gray spoke about his career developing fashion brands, such as Pepe Jeans and Ben Sherman, and his current position buzzed about as Chairman at UK label Monkee Genes.

Entrepreneur Lapo Elkann and expert denim insider Leopoldo Durante presented their own initiative, Care Label. “Denim is a serious product, especially when done with great Italian unique craftsmanship,” commented Elkann. “We don´t show logos on our jeans, since it is the consumer who personalizes and makes it unique by wearing it,” added Durante.

A second round table took place in the afternoon, focusing on the issue of galloping cotton prices. It brought together Augusto Romano (Meltin´Pot), Marco Lucietti (Isko), Gurlperi Erkanli (Bossa), Alberto Candiani (TRC), Panos Sofianos (Denim Valley by Tejidos Royo), and Andy Dunkley (Lee Cooper). Most panelists agreed that it’s indispensable to raise prices and to make up for it, offer higher value products and constantly push innovation.

To finish the string of discussion panels, the subject of how to embrace the savvy denim consumer of today rounded the Denim Day off. Gathering on the sofa were Donna Ida of London-based denim store Donna Ida, Hakan Srom (Cheap Monday), Dieter Jacobfeuerborn (Wrangler), Sonei Nish (Pepe Jeans), Patrick Kraaijeveld (G- Star) and Evelyn Hammerström of German retailer Jades.

Common to most speakers was the increasing awareness and significant consumer competence. “Our customers are often more knowledgeable about denim than we are, so we mustn’t become complacent,” noted both Donna Ida and Evelyn Hammerström.

The event ended with the announcement of the winners of the SIFA Awards 2010.

Maria Cristina Pavarini and Emma Holmqvist

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