Barbara Franchin: "Young people in fashion today are more mature"
She is the guiding spirit behind the ITS competition for young designers (International Talent Support), which she has orchestrated since 2001. Barbara Franchin combs fashion and design schools around the world to help creatives blossom in the most remote places on the planet. At the close of the 12th edition of ITS, held in Trieste on July 12 and 13, she summed up the show's take-aways and the current hottest trends.
FashionMag: Did you have a hard time organizing ITS 2013?
Barbara Franchin: This year was the hardest of all. Due to the financial crisis, public institutions cancelled all their subsidies. While public support only represented 10% of our budget, it was a significant support. Economic difficulties have taught us to streamline our organization to a higher degree, but ITS requires a huge amount of preparation. Eve, the company that organizes the competition, employs ten people full-time and 80 in the weeks leading up to the event. It is a complex operation. In September, we start with a world tour of fashion schools. Then we have to make the first cut of the 1,000-plus applicants and portfolios that we receive each year. Then we have to compile the jury and judge a second round. And finally, there is the production of the event. We managed this year, thanks to obtaining new a new sponsor through Swatch, who joined our other major patrons [Diesel, YKK, Swarovski, ed].
FM: Your archives contain the collections of your finalists and the portfolios of applicants from around the world. In terms of the portfolios that your receive, have you ever been disappointed by the collections that were actually presented?
BF: The candidates assemble these portfolios to illustrate their projects — a mini-collection of five to eight pieces that more or less relates to their graduate collection. Some of them are complete masterpieces. We get something of everything! We have received portfolios delivered in blocks of cement or ice, or in stuffed animals. We even got pieces of furniture in which each drawer revealed a design. But often the craziest portfolios do not lead to the most beautiful collections.
FM: Which are the most creative countries?
BF: Right now, the Asians are very focused and strong. The Japanese, Koreans and Chinese are very active. They try in every which way to get me to understand their projects. They are very motivated and used to a hard fight to get what they want. There is currently strong economic growth in China and Korea that allows them to come to Europe and show off what they can do to a larger audience. And then creativity is always changing. Currently, Europe is in a recession. Fewer young people can afford expensive fashion schools. So there are fewer European students.
FM: What were the major trends this year?
BF: We are seeing a big comeback of materials, worked in every imaginable direction. There is still an intellectual approach, but it is coupled with this investigation of material that functions as the key to understanding the piece. For example, jewelry is no longer set in the traditional way but designed as sculpture. Generally speaking, young people today are more mature. They are aware of what they are doing, how they think about it and how they want to communicate it. They are no longer happy with just making a piece of clothing. They are also thinking about the larger context. It is no longer enough to be the designer. They start to have more experience and work more on all aspects of their work.
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