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Kingpins: 'Amsterdam is THE denim capital'

By FashionUnited


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“[Kingpins] was something we really missed in Europe,” said Barbara Gnutti, exports manager for Italian denim supplier ITV Denim, during the opening of the first European edition of Kingpins, the boutique denim sourcing trade fair. First launched in New York City in 2004 by Andrew

Olah, the invitation-only denim event has grown over the years and now hosts bi-annual events in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and now Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Held at the Gashouder in the Westergasfabriek from May 7 - 8, the trade fair coincides with the debut edition of the Amsterdam Denim Days, the first event of its kind that showcases and highlights the city's thriving denim community.

opens the first edition of Amsterdam Denim Days

Gnutti revealed that when the company was invited to come and show at Kingpins, they decided to join straight away. “We needed something new and wanted a change. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.” Used to showing at fashion trade show Bread & Butter in Berlin, the company decided to attend Kingpins this season and so far has been pleased with their decision. “Everybody is really excited and very happy to be here. I love the venue, it feels very denim and very raw.”

Abbas Rizvi, marketing manager denim for Pakistani-based Siddiqsonslimited, said that they decided to show at Kingpins one year ago after previously showing at Texworld. “It felt as if there was more of a buzz going on around Kingpins,” he noted. “And it's great to see all the support that the trade show is getting from the city of Amsterdam itself. The city just feels more denim based than Paris.”

With a large number of their customers hailing from the UK, including high street fashion names such as Next, New Look, and River Island, it was important for the company to attend Kingpins to meet up with its regular clientele. “Business is good, so we are not too focused on meeting new customers, but if we do that's good too.”

Anna Galbany and Xavier Juan, who both work for Spanish fashion label Mango, were some new customers visiting Kingpins for the first time. Galbany is one of the brand's womenswear designers, whilst Juan is their fabric technician. The pair decided to come to the trade fair to see the new fabrics and washes available and learn more about the new companies showing. Juan noted that the venue feels very similar to Denim by Premiere Vision in Paris four years ago, smaller and cosier; “but with a more concreted array of denim suppliers.”

"Amsterdam is for sure a denim city"

“Amsterdam is for sure a denim city,” said Olaf Nierfeld, manager for Italian denim supplier Europa SNC. The company itself feels quite proud to have been invited to show at Kingpins, but believes that they stand apart from other denim exhibitors showing at the trade show. “We have a different message than other exhibitors here, we target the mother and not the daughter." Nierfeld explains that the company came to Kingpins because one of its main customers asked if they were attending, but notes that Germany is really their main market.

“The situation today is that you have to attend a lot of fairs to meet with your customers. We are going to 7 fairs this season alone! And the more fairs you visit, the less time you have to work at home.” Nierfeld also believes that although Amsterdam is the right location for the boutique denim trade show, it is just too early in the year to be holding an AW trade show. He feels that many retailers are not ready to consider new fabrics or denim and are still thinking about their SS denim collections.

But buyers Schirin Schramm and womenswear designer Isabel Lenk, from Marccain, disagree. Both thought that it was very helpful to view denim fabrics in advance, before making their decisions and final orders a few months from now. Schramm reveals that it was a little stressful for them to find the time to leave the company to attend Kingpins, but seeing as they mainly work with Italian suppliers who were showing, it was vital to visit in the end. "Tomorrow we will visit the city center to do some denim 'research' in town,” says Schramm with a wink, as both ladies are keen to explore the Venice of the North and all the denim it has to offer. "Yes we would come again if they come back to Amsterdam," concludes Lenk.

In the end, no one can deny that The Netherlands is not the typical denim/jean wearing country. The Dutch have on average of 5.4 pairs of jeans in their closets, which is more than the inhabitants of any other Western country. With growing amount of denim companies establishing their headquarters in Amsterdam (Tommy Hilfigier, G-Star), the number of leading jean brands emerging from the city (Scotch & Soda, Denham, Kuyichi), combined with the opening of the world's first denim school (House of Denim with ROCvA Amsterdam), the opening of Amsterdam's Denim City HQ and the start of Amsterdam Denim Days, the city can claim the title of denim capital.

Vivian Hendriksz

Europa SNC
House of Denim
ITV Denim
Scoth & Soda