MILAN — It was another exceptional year for the International Talent Support contest.
Due to pandemic-related travel bans and organization hurdles, the talent search, which is marking its 20th anniversary next year, was held in a digital format, with a short video introducing the 2021 winners and offering insights into what’s next for the family of passionate talent hunters that founder Barbara Franchin has gathered around herself over the year.
Aimed at promoting the next generation of designers and offering them financial support, as well as publicity, the 19th edition of the event — which traditionally gathers industry members and young talents in Trieste, Italy, each year — named its winners after a jury spearheaded by longtime ITS supporter Renzo Rosso, OTB’s founder and chairman, selected the best collections.
Edgy and psychedelic images showcasing the collection of the winners anticipated short clips of Franchin and other jurors virtually handing the awards before heading into a virtual tour of the new ITS house, called ITS Arcademy, a 7,000-square-foot space bowing next year.
“The overall project mix I saw was a great mirror of the current world situation, a clear response to the social mood and evolution. I could sense a higher, perfectionist attention to details, and more available time to spend on the projects,” said Rosso. The 2021 edition of ITS received more than 530 entries from fashion school students from across 30 countries and 60 nationalities.
“There are continuous references to friends and relatives in the concepts and in the locations chosen for the look books, since COVID-19 lockdowns forced people to spend more time at home. And generally speaking, there is a more individual aesthetics with a genderless approach, and the return of a kind of brightness, of joyful colors,” Rosso explained.
Other members of the jury included singer and songwriter Mika; artist, designer and creative director Aitor Throup; Stefania Ricci, director of the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum and the Fondazione Ferragamo, as well as Sara Sozzani Maino, deputy editor in chief of Italian Vogue and head of Vogue Talents, among others.
Aitor Goicoechea Abruza and Adam Elysasse scooped up the ambitious ITS Responsible Creativity Award, a cash prize of 10,000 euros each granted by insurance company Allianz. Barcelona-based Abruza convinced the jury with a crafty men’s collection high on textures, colors and embroideries, making his men look like they have just stepped out of a painter’s studio, while Elysasse brought the dystopian theme to explore the notion of gender identity and the harsh reality of climate change. The collection had street cred — think oversize puffers and loose cargo pants — and a few too many references to style icon and mogul Kanye West’s fashion, but looked intriguing and contemporary.
In sync with the OTB Group’s commitment “in upholding emerging designers and their creativity,” Rosso bestowed Korean designer Taesoon Choi with the OTB Award, receiving 20,000 euros, for the “clarity, sophisticated yet very simple and balanced aesthetic” of the looks, a range of denim pieces twisted under a sartorial lens.
Hadar Slassi was this year’s recipient of the ITS Fondazione Ferragamo Award for her ability “to combine the most advanced technologies and attention to sustainability with traditional craftsmanship and an ergonomic shape of the shoe, elements which can be found in Salvatore Ferragamo’s creativity,” said Ricci. Slassi, whose futuristic footwear is often laceless and enveloping, will receive a cash prize of 5,000 euros, as well as an internship opportunity at the Florence-based luxury house.
Slassi also took home the Lotto Sport Award alongside Qingzi Gao and Tomer Stolbov. Other prizes included the ITS Digital Fashion Award, bestowed on Hua Hui; the Vogue Talents Special Mention scooped up by Tianan Ding and the Swatch Art Peace Hotel Award by Mohammed El Marnissi. The joyful collection present by El Marnissi was particularly convincing with its off-kilter proportions and strong embellishments as in a pink boxy jacket with protruding flowers.
After the winners were revealed, the video took the audience inside a rendering of the ITS Arcademy, the talent search’s new sprawling headquarters, which will be fully unveiled in 2022, three years after the project was announced.
The location will blend exhibiting areas — including a gallery and wunderkammer — with offices, as well as a new home for the ITS Creative Archive, a unique collection of 18,000 portfolios, more than 325 outfits, in addition to accessories, jewels and photographic projects that have been amassed over the past 20 years by the ITS team. At the location’s learning area ITS plans to host workshops, educational and training activities involving former finalists, winners and jurors.
“I hope that we can look back in 10 years with a sense of accomplishment and respect for all we have achieved this year — building Arcademy is also our answer to the crisis and [creating] changes that bring about renewal,” said Franchin.