Kingpins Amsterdam Show Draws International Crowd
AMSTERDAM—Kingpins returned to Amsterdam for its fifth run at the Westergasfabriek, where the trade show bowed alongside a new branding show organized by Kingpins as well as a consumer event called Denim Days, which gives retailers, brands and textile mills a chance to meet with end consumers.
Exhibitors at Kingpins’ April 13–14 run reported seeing primarily European brands, including companies from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia as well as a few from other parts of the globe, including Japan, South America and the United States, including representatives from Joe’s Jeans, 7 For All Mankind, Levi Strauss & Co., VF Europe, Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico’s, Perry Ellis, All Saints, Target, G Star Raw, Acne Studios, Scotch & Soda, Robert Graham, Alexander Wang, Carhartt, Denham the Jeanmaker, Kings of Indigo and Calvin Klein.
The show got off to a busy start on opening day.
“People lined up before the show started,” said Kara Nicholas, vice president of product development and marketing for Greensboro, S.C.–based Cone Denim. “It’s been continuously good all day.”
Cone Denim is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The company just concluded a series of anniversary events at its White Oak facility in Greensboro. At Kingpins, the company had two booths, one highlighting the anniversary and another highlighting the new collection. For the anniversary booth, Nicholas brought some archival pieces from Cone’s “Found Collection,” including a pair of jeans made from “Pinto Denim.” The striated fabric was created in 1969 after a rainstorm flooded the Greensboro warehouse and much of the fabric had to be washed and dyed. The company ran the damaged fabric through a bleach solution to remove the original dye and touched off a fashion trend.
Performance denim continues to be key to Cone’s current collection, Nicholas said. New styles add performance properties such as moisture management, antimicrobial characteristics and stain repellency to denim.
“These technologies aren’t new tech, but they are new to denim,” Nicholas said. “It takes some work to figure out how to apply to a cotton-based fabric. A lot of these finishes are developed for specific brands. Then we bring them to the fashion brands.”
Cone also started adding stretch properties to these performance denims.
“We are lucky that we work with Burlington, our sister company,” Nicholas said. “They’ve been working with these technologies for so long. That’s their area of expertise.”
The company also offers several eco-friendly fabrics, including denim made with Cone’s EarthSpun yarns, which are made from recycled PET plastic from water bottles.
Rather than break out sustainable fabrics into a separate collection, Nicholas said, the company includes sustainable fabrics throughout the collection.
“We’re trying to build the best-looking fabrics. The sustainability is an added-benefit feature,” she said. “At the end of the day, even if it’s sustainable, it still needs to be a great-looking denim that fits really well.”
Other new developments include EcoBlue, which features an indigo designed to chip off faster, wash down faster and wear down faster. The company also reintroduced black selvage denim, and it’s offering denim dyed with U.S.-grown natural indigo in wide widths.
At Bossa, the Turkish denim mill was focusing on fabric with a soft hand that is “finer than cashmere, smoother than silk,” said Birim Atagan, Bossa’s public-relations manager.
Bossa’s “Subway” denim offers a lot of flexibility for the wash process. “It has an enormous color range from very dark to ice-blue shades in only one fabric,” Atagan said. “All you need is one stretch-based fabric. You can use it for skinny styles, boyfriends, men’s and women’s.”
There are selvage denims in rigid and stretch constructions. Bossa is also offering denim dyed with natural indigo, including organic selvage denim. The company’s sustainable-fiber collection also includes organic cotton, Tencel/cotton blends, recycled cotton and recycled PET.
Atagan said the timing of Kingpins’ Amsterdam show is good.
“April is when they start to work,” she said. “All the important customers we want to see are here—Dutch, Scandinavian, U.K., German—it’s a nice hub to meet.”
High-end Italian mill Berto and its selvage division, Blue Selvage, were showing fabric designed for a dressier, more-tailored look, said Arianna Morimando, Berto’s marketing manager.
The collection, dubbed “Back to Society,” featured denim and non-denim with the look of indigo for “the advantages of denim in a more-refined look,” she said.
There are brush-backed fabrics and denims with wool in the weft as well as shirting fabrics with cashmere.
“The proposal is to mix and match between two worlds,” Morimando said. “You are the CEO, but you want to wear denim.”
This was the first time at Kingpins for Italian mill Albiate, which brought its collection of denim-friendly shirting fabrics.
Sales representative Andrew Di Gaetano said traffic was strong, including some designers from South America.
Jacquard prints and fabrics with “rough rustic effects” were attracting interest, said Di Gaetano, as well as non-indigo fabrics, “which is something other mills don’t have here.”
Italian laundry Tonello was at the show to showcase new wash techniques, including water-conserving methods such as laser and ozone finishing.
“Without the use of chemicals, it’s possible to make a safe garment,” said Alice Tonello, R&D manager for the company. “Using the right fabric, you can get good results with sustainable treatments.”
Austrian fiber maker Lenzing came to the show with a group of finished pieces it called the “4S collection,” explained Lenzing Technical Manager Michael Kininmonth.
The letters stand for softness, stretch, science and sustainability, he explained.
What is premium denim today?” Kininmonth said. “It’s not just an expensive product from a high-end brand. It has to have some level of performance.”
The “science” part of the mix refers to the performance characteristics as well as the science behind the sustainability, Kininmonth said, whether that meansreducing the amount of water used or using new machines in the laundry.
Using fabrics from several international mills—including Thailand-based Atlantic, Turkey-based Orta, Japan-based Toray, and Advance and Blue Diamond, both based in China—Lenzing put together a collection that included Western-cowboy influences and artisanal effects such as Japanese shibori as well as vintage looks with a high percentage of stretch and deconstructed looks done with laser finishing. Lenzing partnered with laser-finishing company Jeanologia to create denim with the look of corduroy as well as pieces inspired by art. One design featured laser finishing and a printed pattern in which breaks fit in with the geometric pattern on the fabric.
Turkish mill Calik arrived at Kingpins with more than a dozen new collections, including performance denim with cooling properties, high-stretch fabrications, coated fabrics and knits that mimic the look of denim.