The award ceremony of Isko I-Skool® competition.

MILAN — Leading Turkish denim mill Isko celebrated the winners of the fifth edition of its Isko I-Skool fashion competition this week in Milan, at Base venue, a former locomotive plant, with a fashion show, ceremony and party.

The competition — which saw 216 applications submitted by fashion students hailing from countries including the U.S., China, Italy and South Korea, among others — was dedicated to upcoming fashion designers and marketing students. The 20 finalists’ works were evaluated by the judging panel presided over by siblings Sarah and Carol Piron, founders of Belgium-based brand Filles a Papa.

The denim design contest challenged the talents to develop a manifesto and a collection around the “Undocumented” theme, focusing on an innovative and responsible take on denim, while keeping the marketability of the piece in mind. “This is an opportunity for us to share our knowledge and our vision with the younger generation… ‘Undocumented’ to us means crossing the borders, pushing the limits,” said Isko’s brand director Fabio Di Liberto.

The recipient of the Undocumented Award for the best denim design was Jaeha Im from Seoul-based ESMOD fashion school. The designer showcased a men’s wear outfit, which referenced the traditional way of dressing of his native country pairing a wide-leg belted denim pant with a stonewashed robe-like coat.

The top prize was awarded by Tiziano Guardini, the first recipient of the “Franca Sozzani GCC Award for Best Emerging Designer” at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia ceremony, last September. Guardini encouraged young talents to push their designs skills forward.

The designer and Isko had already collaborated on two different projects over the past few months. Last November the denim manufacturer offered the designer the opportunity to develop a sustainable denim collection unveiled during Milan Fashion Week in September, while during last June’s Pitti Uomo, Florence’s Palazzo Davanzati hosted the “EcoEgo” exhibition of eight designs realized by IED’s students under the mentorship of Guardini. The project was backed by Isko, as well as by Livia Firth’s Eco-Age.

Isko’s recently appointed global marketing director Rosey Cortazzi stressed the company’s commitment to keep helping young talents on their future career path, as she mused that “having an input from young talents is really important for an organization to keep up to speed with what these people want and what their requirements are; it’s really critical.”

Other award categories included Best Denim Show Piece, Certified Responsible Innovation, and Sustainable and Circular Design. Cortazzi praised the efforts of young talents in developing their showpieces, highlighting that “the level of innovation was the main takeaway.”

Sustainability, high on the fashion agenda today, was the central topic of marketing strategies the candidates presented to the jury. Gina Paljusevic from New York’s The New School Parsons School of Design, along with Sunmin Park and Jane Choi, scooped the Marketing Award. Students in this category were tasked to develop a marketing plan for the launch of a responsible line of clothing.

In addition to the Isko awards, I-Skool supporting partners including Reca, Lectra and Lenzing named their winners. For example, Lenzing’s Alternative Fibers Award was bestowed on Polimoda student Andrea Grossi, which created a whimsical women’s dress reminiscent of wedding gowns from eastern European countries; instead of using cotton denim, the young designer employed Isko’s patented Cottonized fabric, which blends viscose and regenerated cellulose fibers, because he “thought about the next generation and the need to preserve the environment for them,” he said.

Each partner provided winners with internships, training programs and funds to develop their collections.

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