The mood was far from blue at the first ever Denim Days Festival in New York, which ran in the Big Apple on Saturday and Sunday at The Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street. A Dutch import that has taken place annually in Amsterdam four times now, this shopping, entertainment and informational ticketed public event geared specifically to denimheads and jeans geeks made a spectacular debut in the city formerly known as “New Amsterdam” and delighted both visitors and exhibitors alike.

Ian Berry showing the incredible life-like “paintings”
© Christopher Blomquist
Ian Berry showing the incredible life-like “paintings”

Produced by House of Denim, Mariette Hoitink’s fashion, recruitment and consultancy HTNK and the trade shows Modefabriek and Kingpins, New York Denim Days included about 50 participating companies inside and a free-of-charge street fair on Sunday where approximately 40 vendors showed and sold their wares to eager passersby.

“It has exceeded the expectations of exhibitors, attendees and owners of the show,” Kingpins founder Andrew Olah told SI on Sunday afternoon. And a clearly happy Hoitink added that she was especially thrilled that the event drew a wide range of different visitors from all over the world due to the mere fact that New York is such a melting pot of nations and people. “There’s such a mix of cultures here,” she noted. “And that’s perfect because the denim world is the most democratic world there is.”

Among the countless interesting and super fun highlights inside the building were a gallery of specially designed jeans by 10 different designers sponsored by fabric company Tonello, artist Ian Berry showing the incredible life-like “paintings” he creates entirely from denim scraps, a virtual 3D tour of Calik’s denim factory, New York’s largest pair of jeans produced by 3x1 using Cone Denim, an indigo dyeing station at Curious Corners, a book signing by jeans legend Piero Turk and the live creation of a denim mural by artist Hanna Barczyk at Silver Jeans, which also promoted its new higher-end Silver Jeans Company collection at the show.



Silver Jeans artwork by Hanna Barczyk
© Christopher Blomquist
Silver Jeans artwork by Hanna Barczyk

At Alvanon’s booth, the topic was all about finding the perfect fit, and visitors could have their bodies scanned in a new high-tech device that sends their measurements directly to their phone. Also on hand there was denim designer Christine Rucci aka Godmother, who showed how AlvaForm, a new pliable mannequin that is designed to mirror the elasticity of human flesh, is the latest game-changer in the pursuit of flawless fitting. She also gave informal trend presentations and predicted that updated high-waisted baggy silhouettes circa 1976 will soon be the next big thing–along with shrunken jean jackets like the ones Madonna wore at the start of her career. 

Along the so-called “Blue Avenue” row, five labels from The Netherlands–Anbasja Blanken, Benzak Denim Developers, Kings of Indigo, Tenue de Nimes and TOSSIJN–mingled with American audiences. And elsewhere US niche brands and stores such as Detroit Denim, BLKSMTH and Jean Shop hawked their designs and made new fans.

Street fair
© Christopher Blomquist
Street fair

Sunday’s street fair portion–which was made all the more festive with a red and white line resembling selvedge painted down the center of the road–was especially dynamic with live music, games and special attractions for children. Treasures to be seen and purchased there included numerous vintage pieces, colorful painted jackets by Danyaki and designs by ABL Denim, a stylish line created by Stephanie Alves for men, women and children with mobility and dexterity issues or autism. ABL’s inventive designs include jeans with a knit-fabric seat that is more comfortable for those in wheelchairs, pants with large front-flap fronts that are easy to open and a denim vest that can be inflated to mock a “hug” that will provide a feeling of security to children on the autism spectrum.

Although it was not open to the public, Denim Days unofficially launched on Friday with an invite-only series of talks hosted by Andrew Olah at the nearby Fashion Institute of Technology. Featured guests included Stefan Siegel of Not Just a Label, denim guru Adriano Goldschmied (who noted that “Honestly, my generation was a part of something much more boring” as he discussed today’s technological advancements), 3x1 founder/designer Scott Morrison (who predicted a decline in apparel manufacturing in California and said that selling to big online stockists was more effective for brands than having influencers wear them) and Sanjeev Bahl, the owner of Saitex, a 100% green and ethical production facility in Vietnam.


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For more information on trade shows check out DFV Group’s expocheck.com.