TRIESTE, Italy — ITS, the International Talent Support contest launched in 2001 and sponsored by a number of top companies in the fashion industry, including Diesel, YKK, Swarovski Elements and Avery Dennison, unveiled the winners of its 11th edition here on July 14.
ITS, which has served as a launch pad for several international designers over the years, including Mark Fast, Peter Pilotto and Aitor Throup, aims to support young talents, giving them visibility and putting them in touch with some important fashion labels.
“I won the competition four years ago and it was definitely a good, very useful experience. It has been a very good platform to show my work,” said Fast, who this season was a juror, along with Diesel chief Renzo Rosso, ITS founder Barbara Franchin, artist Marina Abramovic, Avery Dennison global creative director Tim Voegele-Downing and blogger Susie Bubble, among others.
Osaka, Japan, native Ichiro Suzuki, a Master of Arts in Men’s Wear at the London’s Royal College of Art, received the Fashion Collection of the Year award of 15,000 euros, or $18,359 at current exchange rate.
Suzuki, who will be a member of the ITS jury next year and will present his new collection during that event’s runway show, won the competition with a mature men’s tailoring lineup which, according to the designer, was inspired by English sartorial tradition, the Regency Era’s eccentricity and the optical art of the Fifties. A classic, well-cut pin-stripe suit was decorated with 3-D details and a trenchcoat featured pixilated prints in a rainbow-inspired color palette.
“Probably tomorrow morning I’ll realize what’s happening,” said Suzuki, who looked shocked after the award ceremony. “My goal is to seek some experience in a big company before launching my own label,” he said.
The Fashion Special Prize went to Luke Brooks, who just graduated from Central Saint Martens.
The 25-year-old British designer, who won 5,000 euros, or $6,130, presented an unconventional, creative collection where a grunge mood was mixed with a streetwear inspiration.
“We decided to assign him the special jury prize because his was the only collection not related to the designer’s specific country,” said Abramovic. “I was impressed by how the designers are connected to the country where they live. But I really don’t understand why. We are constantly talking about a global culture but we realize how hard it is for them to cut the ties with their own country.”
In addition, Abramovic highlighted the rebellious aspect of Brooks’ collection. “When you are young, you must be a rebel,” she mused. “Only after that phase you can be ready to get into the mainstream.”
The Diesel Award, which includes a cash prize of 25,000 euros, or $30,650, and a six-month internship within the company’s creative team, was assigned to Lithuanian Marius Janusauskas, who also took the D-La Repubblica Award, bestowed by the namesake Italian weekly. This year, Diesel asked the competition’s finalists to design haute couture-inspired looks using denim, a theme that Janusauskas, who graduated at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, interpreted through a delicate, Sleeping Beauty inspiration.
Israeli Marc Goldenberg, who thrilled the audience showing a beautiful, architectural women’s wear collection inspired by birds, took both the Avery Dennison Brand Innovation Award, receiving 3,000 euros, or $3,678, and a consultancy from the American company which will study specific branding integrated solutions for the designer’s portfolio, and the Vogue Talents Award for Fashion.
“My goal is to get into a high-end couture house, such as Chanel,” said Goldenberg, who also cut his teeth as design assistant at Diane von Furstenberg in New York in 2011. “I also got an offer from Helmut Lang, but I had to refuse because of bureaucratic problems. In Israel, when you want to got to Europe and the United States, it’s so hard because you have to fill out so many papers.”
In the accessories category, the Collection of the Year award, consisting of a cash prize of 8,000 euros, or $9,808, went to Serbian designer Ana Rajcevic, a graduate of the London College of Fashion, who showcased headgear inspired by animal anatomy. In addition, London native Benjamin John Hall got the YKK Award grant of 10,000 euros, or $12,260, and the Vogue Talents Awards went to Royal College of Art graduate Victoria Spruce, who presented a footwear collection centered on organic, flowing shapes.
For the second year, ITS also featured a category dedicated to jewelry, where sponsor Swarovski Elements awarded Shanghai native Xiao Zi Yang, who designed jewelry pieces paying tribute to Asian architecture and to the Yin and Yang philosophy. Yang won a cash prize of 10,000 euros, or $12,260, and a six-month internship at Swarovski’s headquarters in Austria.
“I’d like to be the tutor of some of these young talents,” said Gruppo Coin fashion coordinator Caterina Salvador, at her first experience as a member of the ITS jury. “I have recently created a design team for the group and I think it’s very important to insert two or three young graduates to have them grow within the company.”
According to Salvador, Gruppo Coin is repositioning in order to “go from being a retailer to being an in-house brand developer,” she said. The group is also gearing up to open the second Excelsior department store in Verona in 2013.