MILAN — Not even the pandemic could stop the International Talent Support contest, also known as ITS, from naming its 2020 winners.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the contest was held in a digital format, part fashion film, part livestreamed ceremony on Oct. 23, rather than an IRL fashion show as in the past 18 years — with the exception of 2017, when the talent search was put on hold due to financial restrictions.
No matter, the event was a compelling alternative to previous editions, which traditionally gather industry members and young talents in Trieste, Italy, each year.
Aerial views of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where Trieste is based, took the audience through its unspoiled natural landscapes before landing on the rooftop of an industrial space — located on one of Trieste’s many piers. Here, the collections of the 35 talents were filmed ahead of Friday’s event. Capping off the digital showcase, ITS founder Barbara Franchin hosted a phy-gital version of the awards ceremony inside the city’s Palazzo della Regione building, with some jury members in attendance and others connected remotely.
Aimed at promoting the next generation of designers and offering them financial support, as well as publicity, the 18th edition of the event named its winners after a jury spearheaded by longtime ITS supporter Renzo Rosso, OTB’s founder and chairman, selected the best collections centered on the “Here We Belong” theme. This was a call for designers to raise their creative voices in such a difficult moment for the industry and society.
During the awards ceremony young talents offered more glimpses of the actual or imaginative places where they think they belong: Home, creativity, imagination, desire were all recurring words among the talents connected remotely to attend the event.
“History’s toughest moments have always been some of the most creative ones. An enemy to fight does not hinder creativity — it fuels it,” said Rosso. “We have supported ITS for the last 20 years, and we are close to young fashion designers all over the world because they push the boundaries and pave the way. There are no limits to what can be created. Just believe in it.”
Other members of the jury included Paola Antonelli, senior curator, department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art; Carlo Capasa, president of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana; Lucinda Chambers, cofounder of Colville and Collagerie; Orsola de Castro, founder and global creative director of Fashion Revolution; Stavros Karelis, founder and buying director of London’s concept store Machine-A; Koché founder and creative director Christelle Kocher; singer and songwriter Mika; Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and architect and designer Patricia Urquiola.
Canadian but London-based designer Olivia Rubens, a knitwear specialist, scooped up the ITS Responsible Fashion Award, a cash prize of 10,000 euros granted by insurance company Allianz and a tutorship on responsible creativity backed by Fashion Revolution. As suggested by the prize name, Rubens’ knack for sustainable materials (biodegradable, natural, certified for traceability and dyed with natural dyes) convinced the jury with a collection that had a crafty feel and was injected with languid sensuality.
Charged with a socially responsible message against bullying and injustice, the collection offered twisted versions of traditional female tropes including knitted bodices, petticoats embellished with feathers and flared knit pants.
Rubens also took home the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana Award consisting of a 5,000 euro prize. The Italian fashion governing body also invited contestant Cameron Williams to take part in the next edition of Fashion Hub, while Fashion Revolution offered him a tutorship.
Presenting a handbag collection heavy on recycling for which she repurposed kitchenware and household objects turning them into accessories to eccentric and playful bags, Portuguese designer Clara Chu was bestowed with the ITS Responsible Accessories Award, receiving 10,000 euros and a tutorship by Fashion Revolution.
Andrea Rosso, sustainability ambassador and upcycling artistic director, as well as creative director of Diesel Licenses and of MYAR, handed the OTB and Diesel Awards remotely to Andrew Bell and Noa Baruch, respectively. Both talents stood out for their use of advanced technologies and a penchant for sustainability.
Baruch delivered a men’s denim outfit comprised of shorts and a roomy vest treated with a laser engraving technique and homemade washes to obtain checkered patterns studied in advance via 3-D design simulation. Bell applied an engineering approach to optimize his design process and make it more sustainable, delivering a women’s tailoring collection in muted tones.
They are each receiving a cash prize of 10,000 euros in addition to internships at one of the OTB brands and at Diesel’s headquarters in Breganze, Italy, respectively. OTB controls Maison Margiela and Marni, among others.
For the first time in its history, given the remote event accessible to the broader audience, ITS also instituted the People’s Choice Award. The democratic prize assigned by tuned-in people was scooped up by Felipe Fiallo, who will win 1,000 euros.