WHY by Kingpins Branding Show Debuts in Amsterdam


ART OF BRANDING: Kingpins’ new branding show, WHY, was set up to look like an art gallery.

AMSTERDAM—During the April 13–14 run of the Kingpins denim supply chain show in Amsterdam, organizers launched a new sister trade show focused on the branding side of the supply chain.

WHY by Kingpins featured a mix of exhibitors that included trim suppliers offering buttons, tags, labels and zippers as well as branding specialists and sourcing resources.

Kingpins founder Andrew Olah said the trade show name is a reference to Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why,” which outlines a concept for organizations advising them to define why they exist first.

“Everything goes back to ‘why,’” he said. “We wanted to do something about creativity for hardware, labels, buttons and packaging.”

The show was set up to look like an art gallery—a nod, Olah said, to the very first Kingpins show in 2004 in New York, which was held in an art gallery.


3-D LEATHER: Turkish tag and label company KT Label has developed washable and dry-cleanable leather tags that won’t shrink or get brittle and with colors that won’t run. The company has also developed a method for creating embossed leather tags that retain their design.

“When you go to the store, what makes you notice one jean over another? It’s about the components, the branding,” Olah said. “Storytelling is everything and it’s part of WHY.”

In addition to the booth space, each exhibitor at WHY was given space on a wall that ran down the center of the room. Exhibitors were given free rein to design their wall space, with some choosing a minimalist layout of their products and others creating more-elaborate artistic displays. Around the room, show organizers set up neon lights and backlit signs emblazoned with slogans such as “When the why is clear, the how is easy,” “You have to think anyway, why not think big” and “They told me I couldn’t, that’s why.”

KT Label, a leather label company based in Istanbul with an office in Fort Washington, Penn., was among the exhibitors at WHY. The 2-year-old company is a division of YiZ Deri, a 110-year-old tannery that began making labels more than 25 years ago.

The company has developed leathers that can be dry-cleaned and washed, said Devrim Eren, executive vice president of global business development. The chromium-free leathers are durable, won’t shrink or get brittle, and colors don’t bleed during the wash process, Eren said.

The company also has organic leathers that are processed with vegetable-based chemicals and finished with vegetable-based dyes. For WHY, KT Label brought tags created by the company’s in-house design team, including embossed 3-D tags made by injecting silicone into the leather, which helps retain the tag’s design.

“We have been coming to Kingpins for a while,” Eren said. We brought our branding ideas since we have an in-house team. And because we have the tannery, we’re very competitive when it comes to price.”

Nexgen Packaging has been a longtime Kingpins exhibitor. The launch of WHY put an added focus on the branding side of the business, said Kent Pellegrini, cofounder and chief business development officer of the Santa Barbara, Calif.–based company.


ECO FASTENERS: Trim company Prym has a new processing approach, called LIFE, that substitutes natural treatment processes for traditional methods, which can be harmful to the environment.

“What we learned over the years is that the people buying the branding aren’t necessarily the same people coming into the Kingpins show,” he said. “This [new WHY show] gives people the opportunity to be exposed to what to look for.”

Robert Loop, a founding partner and chief strategy officer for Nexgen, praised the look of the show.

“It’s well thought out,” he said. “People can walk by and see what you do.”

Nexgen recently struck a deal with PTC Inc., the Massachusetts-based provider of the ThingWorx Internet of Things technology platform and PLM (product lifecycle management) solutions. Nexgen is integrating with PTC’s ThingWorx platform, allowing retailers and brands to share product label information— including quantities and specs—between Nexgen systems and a company’s PTC Flex­PLM solution.

“We’re already connected to [customers’] ERP [enterprise resource planning systems] so we were getting purchase-order information,” Loop said. “From our standpoint, we can consolidate articles together and run larger runs. We’re going live with the first integration with a testing company linking compliance certification to the care label. If we can cut 10 days out of the supply chain, everyone will be ecstatic.”

Prym is reported to be the oldest family-owned business in Germany. Founded in 1530, the company today produces trim, fasteners and machinery with its head office in Stolberg, Germany, near the Belgium and Dutch borders. Its trim business, which is based in Como, Italy, supplies buttons and other fasteners to sportswear and denim brands.

“Trim is more than functional; it’s the finishing touch,” said Marco Corti, Prym director general.

Two years ago, the company started a new processing approach called Low Impact Finish Ensemble (LIFE), which substitutes natural treatment processes for traditional methods, which can be harmful to the environment. Instead of using chemicals to color and coat fasteners made from brass, steel and copper, Prym uses stones and sand.

“We can reproduce 80 percent of existing standard colors with LIFE technology,” said Guido Maywald, Prym account manager. “We have some problems with the super-shiny precious colors [such as real gold] but any other effect like vintage or clear can be easily achieved.”

Plus, Maywald said, the LIFE products are less expensive than the traditional fasteners and everything is produced in Italy.

Patagonia has already ordered Prym’s LIFE fasteners, Maywald said, and other companies in the U.S. are interested.

Maywald said the company is looking to build its business in the United States.

“There is a space for Italian products,” he said. “It’s 100 percent made in Italy and the metal plating is done in-house. We have an advantage being a totally vertical company. We buy the raw material and it comes out a finished button.”

For high-end zipper maker Riri, the challenge is to find new customers in the right part of the market.

“We are situated on a very high level of the market,” said Dragon Heijnerman, who represents the company in the Netherlands. Riri zippers are used by companies such as Armani, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, Heijnerman explained.

“It is a very unique product, really one of a kind,” he said. The company offers special details such as real gold finishes, Heijnerman said. “Only the high end can offer it.”

WHY exhibitors also included representatives from the Morocco Denim Cluster, which represents denim resources in Morocco, as well as Donmatias Blue Town, a group of denim manufacturers in Donmatias, Colombia.

Specialty fiber maker DSM Dyneema was also exhibiting at WHY, showcasing its high-strength fiber, which Nina Romano, global marketing director for the Dutch fiber company, said is 15 percent stronger than steel. Romano said the company sees potential for denim made with Dyneema for the skateboarding, action-sports and motorcycle markets.