Although mom jeans and flares are what the next few seasons are all about, the skinny is far from over. “Skinny jeans will never be over,” says Alberto Primo Candiani, global manager at Italian weaving mill Candiani, during Kingpins. The key word at the international trade fair for denim mills and one of the main components for the skinny: Stretch. “But skinnies have to be super soft and comfortable," added Candiani.
Kingpins was held at the Amsterdam Gashouder, on the grounds of the Westergas factory, for the third time. The trade fair - which hosts bi-annual editions in Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong, and expanded to include the Netherlands last May - did not implement any big changes this time round, although there were a series of seminars in addition to the event. “We've already had more visitors,” revealed the event’s founder, Andrew Olah, a few hours after the opening of the fair. “And great weather,” he jokes.
According to Olah, approximately 80 percent of the exhibitors from the previous edition have returned to the Gashouder. “I love the building,” says the American founder. “I wish this building was everywhere.” Is the location not too small for the trade fair’s ambitions? “Ambitions? This is it. You think we should move to a conference centre? Would you even come if it was that much bigger? Bigger isn’t always better, you know.”
Kingpins does not have growth ambitions for Amsterdam
The weaving mills that participate in Kingpins appear to place the emphasis on comfort. “Softness is the biggest trends for winter 2016,” says Candiani, while stroking a pair of skinny jeans displayed in his stand. He presents selvedge denim with stretch - “this is very hard to make, not every mill is able to” - and he shows jeans that are extra soft and elastic, thanks to the use of tencel and nylon. “That’s right, nylon, like in pantyhose,” he says. “Women simply need skinny jeans. But they have to be super soft and comfortable.”
Ata Arican, account manager at Orta Anadolu in Istanbul, agrees that soft jeans are the future. He has a rack in his stand with a collection called Comfort2. “It stretches in both directions,” he says, while pulling the material horizontally and vertically.
The future of denim is more sustainable
However, according to Arican, most brands and fashion chains are more interested in sustainability, which is one of the reasons uses tencel in its collections. The company also joined forces with Garmon Chemical in order to make the processing of denim more sustainable. “We also have vegan denim, but we didn’t bring it to Kingpins. We had to make a choice of what to present.”
Olah particularly advocates transparency, which can in turn lead to more sustainability. “Do you know where your blazer was made?" he questions. "The label only states the country in which it was produced and how to wash it. You know practically nothing about it. Isn’t that terrible?”
But how is the industry going to sell sustainable denim? Leroy Aznam of the blog Commesdesleroi.com does not think it is that difficult. During a seminar organised by Kingpins, five denim bloggers - all male - talked about the future of denim. “In Amsterdam, everyone is concerned with organic and home grown food. People do their groceries at Marqt and no longer eat bread.” According to Aznam, sustainable jeans belong in this trend.
Lars Tibben, a blogger who is also the owner of Thedenimdaily.com, expects some issues when it comes to selling sustainable denim to consumers. “You do have to explain to consumers why they have to pay more for sustainable jeans. If one pair in the store costs 40 euros and another pair costs 400 euros and the reason why the one is more expensive than the other isn’t clear, obviously almost no one is going to choose the more expensive pair. So you have to explain what the added value is. For example, when aloë vera has been added, which is both good for the people making the jeans and for those wearing them.” Which boils down to the importance of the comfort of jeans.
Original text by: Yasmine Esser for FashionUnited.nl Translation by: Wendela van den Broek