Kingpins24 Launches as Virtual Complement to Kingpins Brand
After producing a reported 88 shows together in 10 cities including New York, Amsterdam and Hong Kong, Kingpins founder Andrew Olah and the show’s managing director, Vivian Wang, introduced the brand’s first Zoom-hosted digital event April 22–23. Taking place during the dates that were originally intended for the Amsterdam edition of Kingpins at SugarCity, the virtual event adhered to the city’s local time beginning at 9 a.m. CET. According to Olah, the entire Kingpins team pitched in to produce the virtual show within a four-week time frame following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We learned a lot through this. There was a tremendous amount of learning that goes in and we wanted the experience. That is the reason we signed onto it so quickly and aggressively. We said, ‘Let’s do something for our community, but let’s also learn something and see what is here.’”
In addition to interviews with denim experts such as Stefano Aldighieri of Another Design Studio and Lycra’s Jean Hegedus, Kingpins also afforded opportunities for partners who would have exhibited at the physical show to present their brands and mission through presentations. There was also room to have a bit of fun with vintage commercials from denim brands including Lee and Levi’s and a virtual happy hour to close the first day.
“The exhibitors were happy that we did something for the industry and let them participate and talk to their community,” Olah said. “Everybody got some energy from that because they had a project to do and the project was talking to customers, which is what we all want to do. This was a mass event. This was something that we could all do together.”
The show afforded opportunities for denimheads to examine how the business will change as companies find new ways to conduct business. Priorities will also shift with consumer demands changing to ensure health and safety.
“When we traveled to China, Japan and Korea, most people were wearing masks when going out. To us, it was a little bizarre, and now the mask is going to be the number-one thing people will be buying,” Aldighieri said. “It will be a different landscape.”
One of the largest topics of conversation during Kingpins24 was sustainability, a timely subject considering the shrinking carbon footprint of the apparel industry as many professionals work remotely.
During a panel led by Kerry Bannigan, founder of the Conscious Fashion Campaign in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, panelists discussed the future of trade shows. While this industry that relies so heavily on tactile experiences will need on-site events, panelists envisioned fresh approaches, such as Adam Taubenfligel of Triarchy Denim, who recognized an opportunity when his budget opened up following event cancellations starting in March.
“We look at how we spend to go to these events that could be digital and how we could take the extra resources and invest them into the companies that are trying to make our lives easier,” he said. “It creates an eco-system where the denim brands are helping the companies that are trying to make our lives easier and the planet better.”
For Olah, the denim industry needs a physical space to come together, study fresh methods in production and examine new product, but, in the meantime, his team is planning to host a June virtual edition around the time when Kingpins New York would have taken place June 2–3 at Pier 36’s Basketball City, though details have not yet been announced. Despite denim’s reliance on physical trade shows, he feels smaller conferences and seminars could be more useful in a digital format.
“Most surprising for us was how we could do more with our seminars with people from all different countries to put on a great seminar. It was a lot easier for us to put on a great seminar. Moving forward, I think it’s something we can do frequently and do really well digitally,” he said. “We can go all over the world.”