TRIESTE, Italy — ITS, the International Talent Support program, celebrated its 15th edition and named its winners here on July 16.

The contest, founded by Barbara Franchin, aims to promote young talents, give them financial support and provide publicity, also thanks to the involvement of a number of top companies, including Renzo Rosso’s OTB, YKK, Swarovski and Swatch.

Rosso showed his support from the contest launch in 2001, first with Diesel and then with the OTB group. “Fifteen years ago there wasn’t the web,” he said, “it was more difficult to do scouting, you had to go in person to the universities and schools, while now it’s a lot easier, we can have 100 schools, 80 countries, 1,000 portfolios. Technology really helped us and Barbara has been really, really good with this contest.”

He also stressed the importance of young designers as a source of creativity, since they can bring out “things that have never been done,” adding “this is why I love to work with them and come to ITS.

“These young talents, with a help of a senior management, can really do some things that stand out,” Rosso concluded.

A jury of experts gathered up to evaluate the 41 finalists’ work, divided in four categories: fashion, accessories, jewelry and artwork. The jury included Carlo Capasa, president of Italy’s Fashion Chamber; Silvia Venturini Fendi, president of AltaRoma; Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s chief sustainability officer and head of International Institutional Affairs; Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Andrea Rosso, creative director of Diesel licenses and Demna Gvasalia, founder of Vetements and creative director of Balenciaga, who won the ITS contest in 2004, among others.

“I think I’ll be led by instinct, eventually” revealed Venturini Fendi before the final show, in regards of her vote. “I have been very careful through every stage,” she said, but admitted that the decision rests on the movement of the clothes on the runway. She shared the secret of her family brands’ longevity, which is “to never feel arrived. The day you think you have reached the top, that’s the moment when you start relaxing, repeating yourself and lose the contact with newness, which is fundamental.” She urged young designers to be humble and to be prepared for hard work and competition. “It’s a long and rough path,” she noted, “if you really believe in your project and vision, you should never give up.”

The moment of the start-up is the most delicate, for a designer. “You have to be able to promote yourself and your dream, you have to be persuasive and show why buyers should invest in your products.” She talked about her work on Who is on Next? where designers are followed even after the contest.

Rosso predicted changes for the fashion industry, especially for the luxury arena, as consumers have changed the way they spend their money, focusing more on health, food and travel. “Luxury will have to find an alternative solution,” he said, adding he doesn’t see problems for more democratic brands and big chains. “The world of luxury will have to change a little bit the way to do business, since online is going to be more and more important.” In this sense, “cathedral shops” will need to be downsized.

Steele, an ITS jury member for the first time, revealed that Franchin “made it clear to us that our mandate is to really look for creativity and we are not supposed to look for viability in the market yet.” She revealed the upcoming agenda for the FIT museum, including a work on the color pink in fashion and art in 2018 and one on the idea of Paris as capital of fashion, for the following year.

Capasa usually prioritizes authenticity, followed by recognizable style and modernity.

Sustainability was also a topic at ITS.

Rosso pointed to important developments in technology and regarding the recycling issue, explaining that “we are trying to waste less, there’s a growing social responsibility,” and stressing how young generations really embrace the environmental and social causes.

Kering’s Daveu was upbeat about the attention on sustainability, shared by fellow jury members. “It’s the first year Barbara has put in the [application] questionnaire links to sustainability,” she said. “It states that if you want to win the prize you have to [deal with] this issue.” Daveu highlighted how sustainability is at the core of Kering’s business strategy with an approach not only to the group’s products but also its stores and buildings. She said Kering is currently working to define a new chapter of its sustainable vision for the next 10 years.

The top award, ITS Fashion for the best collection, went to New Zealander Mayako Kano, who showed a feminine, layered and embroidered collection. “It embraces the idea of being caught in a limbo between old and new,” revealed Kano, also pointing to a surreal inspiration. The prize consists of 10,000 euros, or $11,052 at current exchange — as all the prizes assigned in the contest — and the opportunity to show the designer’s new project at next year’s edition.

Niels Gundtoft Hansen and Anna Bornhold were tied winners of the OTB Award, handed by Rosso, who strongly wanted to work with both designers. In fact, the winners will have the opportunity to do an internship at one’s of OTB brands.

Danish-native Hansen showed a bold men’s wear collection inspired by his experience in the Nordic landscape. A skater, his collection harks back to his days spent at industrial docks. Bornhold lineup was also a fun and colorful collection, but she combined romance and humor for clothes that could be seen as unisex.

Helen Kirkum scooped the top prize in the accessories category thanks to her footwear collection, made of old sneakers parts, broken down in pieces as individual components and brought back to life through a careful collage-like process. “The collection is started from this idea of commerciality and how we live in a saturated environment, and how we can create newness,” said Kirkum.

The YKK Award went to Young Jin Jang and her six-items collection inspired by puzzles. Jang will also be given he chance to expose her collection at YKK’ showroom in London.

German-native Sari Rathel was awarded for the jewelry category, winning the chance to present her new collection at next year’s ITS. Rathel investigated gender identity issue through avant-garde designs that have abstract stereotypical male and female physical features. In the same category, Swarovski’s Uta Schumacher handed the Swarovski Award to Tatiana Lobanova, who showed a retro-futuristic collection inspired by quantum mechanics, suitable both for men and women alike.

Regarding the artwork segment, Italian Marco Baitella was awarded with the top prize while the Swatch Award was assigned to Jana Zornik, who won a six-month work experience at the Swatch Lab in Zurich.

Special prizes were also handed to ITS former edition’s finalists Bianca Chong and Justin Smith. Chong was awarded with the ITS Made in FVG for her jewelry collection based on the idea of wearable technologies while Smith scooped the prize sponsored by ITS’ partner Generali, for his own brand of head-pieces, that includes the creation he did for Angelina Jolie’s character in “Maleficent.”