DENIM PRIZE: Anbasja Blanken’s glow-in-the-dark jeans won the best collection prize at the annual Global Denim Awards, coinciding with the denim fair Kingpins Amsterdam, which wrapped up Thursday. The 29-year-old Dutch designer, who interned for Viktor & Rolf and just started her trousers line called Ala Blanka in Amsterdam, impressed the jury at the third edition of the prize with her underwater-themed collection done with Italian mill ITV Denim. It was festooned with floral embroideries, pearls, laser-cut prints and recycled ruffles.
The award pairing emerging designers with denim mills was sponsored by E³ cotton and comes with a grant of 10,000 euros, or $10,911.7 at current exchange. Some 11 mills and designers were selected this year. Other participating mills included Berto Industria Tessile, Prosperity Textile, Atlantic Mills, Calik Denim, Royo, Candiani Denim and Arvind (which won the fabric award.)
Jury members included Kelly Harrington, a trends forecaster and vintage archivist at H&M; Art Comes First design duo Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh, and Scotch & Soda global sales director Alex Jaspers.
After the ceremony that gathered around 500 guests at Amsterdam’s De Hallen, Blanken explained that was inspired by deep-sea corals whose colors alternate when the light changes and can even be luminescent. ITV created a denim fabric especially for her putting the luminescence into the yarn.
“She pushed denim to haute couture level. Her silhouettes were supersharp, almost no seam,” said Jaspers. “The fabric picks up the light and glows. It’s 100 percent woven through the fabrics, no battery.”
A flurry of denim competitions have been recently created. Denim textile company Isko has its “I-Skool” talent contest while Berto has a young talents program. The latter mill revealed a capsule collection at the fair with fashion label Ma Va’ as part of the program. The collection of indigo pieces with stripes is to kick off the celebrations for Berto’s 130th anniversary in 2017. On the talent hunt for the denim designers, Jaspers said: “Denim is a complicated fabric. That’s why everyone is looking for a good developer.”
“Denim design used to be a secret profession, hidden away in the mill,” said House of Denim founder James Veenhoff at a party held at the Amsterdam Jean School that he cofounded. “But now with an increased need for innovation and the explosion of new technology, we need to get out of functional mode and bring innovation to life with imagination and stories. Some of the collections presented tonight were fairy tales.”
Blanken’s collection with ITV is to be displayed at Kingpins show in New York on Nov. 2 and 3.