CASTELFRANCO VENETO, Italy Leading Turkish denim mill Isko has unveiled the finalists for its Isko I-skool Denim Talent Awards with a three-day trip to the company’s Creative Room design and research headquarters here, from March 18 to 20.

The award ceremony for the best designs will take place in July in Milan, although a precise date has yet to be disclosed.

The company selected 20 projects among the 216 submitted by fashion students hailing from countries including the U.S., China, Italy and South Korea, among others. The finalists were invited to Castelfranco Veneto to visit Isko’s design department and attend seminars, workshops and research programs.

The next generation of fashion designers were challenged to develop a manifesto and a collection around the “Undocumented” theme, focusing on a new take on denim. “Denim has been the lead in dressing social changes over the past 200 years, I believe it can be like that in the future as well, if you think out of the box,” said Isko’s brand director Fabio Di Liberto.

“For the fifth edition [of the contest] we focused on giving the students the chance to become change agents,” continued Di Liberto, highlighting how he noticed the students are improving their skills every year thus giving the company the confidence to raise the bar higher for the 2018 edition.

The 20 finalists are Hanna Herva from Helsinki’s Aalto University; Nikita Sugiyanti Dompig from AMFI, the Amsterdam Fashion Institute; Bingqing Ma and Rui Zhao, both from the Bejing Institute of Fashion Technology; Emi Harashima from the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo; Jaeha Im and Undraa Chinzorig from ESMOD fashion school in Seoul; IED’s Francesca Girardelli; Giulia Zubiolo and Michael Ruggiero from IUAV in Venice; South Korean designer Haeyeong Jeon, the Argentinian Lucila Nair Pieres and Italian-German Riccardo Serravalle from the Florence school of Istituto Marangoni; Britini Campbell from London-based Middlesex University; Maria Capellaro from Milan’s Naba; the New School’s Parsons School of Design’s Emily Starobrat; Polimoda student Andrea Grossi; Ashley Romasko from the Savannah College of Art and Design; Zhuolin Cheng from the Academy of Arts & Design Tsinghua University, and Chinese Yi Luo from the Wuhan Textile University.

Fashion students attending the ISKO I-SKOOL Denim Seminar Workshop.

Fashion students attending the ISKO I-SKOOL Denim Seminar Workshop.  Courtesy Photo.

“Guideline restrictions challenged the students to enhance and diversify their inspirations and embrace the task more seriously,” said Anna-Mari Leppisaari, a textile design teacher at Aalto University in Helsinki. Leppisaari was among the tutoring teachers who accompanied the students on the educational trip to Italy.

The activities organized by Isko included a lesson with the company’s product development manager Baris Ozden, who highlighted the importance of an all-round approach to sustainability, one of Isko’s key themes. “Using organic fabrics or sustainable chemicals doesn’t make you sustainable,” he said, stressing the company’s “global” approach, which includes reducing water and electricity consumption and cleaning sewage, for example.

Isko’s commitment to water-saving processes is shared by garment processing firm Tonello, which recently launched a partnership with Levi’s. During a visit to the company’s factory in Sarcedo, on the outskirts of Vicenza, the students had the chance to see how new technologies can apply to denim washing and finishing procedures with an environmentally friendly yet creative approach. “Sustainable products are often seen like flat fashion. We want to underscore that creativity can cross these boundaries,” explained Alberto Lucchin, a Tonello representative.

Along with Reca Group, Seven For All Mankind and Replay, Tonello is among the supporting partners of the Isko I-skool contest. For the first time this year, Isko can also count on a partnership with Lectra.

According to Di Liberto, the I-skool awards along with other projects — including the company’s support to the CNMI Green Carpet Talent Competition and the Copenhagen Fashion Summit — highlight Isko’s commitment to “bring an added value to our clients acting directly to answer the shifts in the fashion industry, and finding a reason why.” Marina Tonella, founder of Mestieri-LAB, a company consulting with Isko to connect with fashion schools — agreed, saying “The goal is to bring companies to take care again of the young generation [of designers].”

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