International Talent Support (ITS) acts as a springboard for new graduates to showcase their creativity. It was founded in 2002 by Barbara Franchin and is based on a callout for talent and has developed into a network of support which is truly global, and as they say, family.
The competition takes place in Trieste and invites finalists to gather in Italy where the winners are announced to an audience of over 400 guests including journalists, opinion leaders and major representatives of the fashion industry.
Over the platform’s history, it has garnered over 16,000 applications from 80 nations, making it one of the world’s most important archives of contemporary fashion and esteemed alumni include Demna Gvasalia and Peter Pilotto. Thanks to partnerships with Pitti Immagine, Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana and AltaRoma, the platform returns this year for its 16th edition.
Congregating in the seaside village of Portopiccolo Sistiana in Trieste at the end of April, the jurors picked this year’s talented finalists after a rigorous multi-day selection process. The results were finally released today.
The finalists for the fashion category of the initiative are Thai designer Eda Sriprom; Chinese designers Di Gao and Caroline Hu; Taiwanese designer Po-Chieh Chiu; Italian designer Filippo Soffiati; Japanese designer Seiran Tsuno; and UK designer Tolu Coker. Design duo Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena from the United States and the United Kingdom were also named finalists.
Two students were further selected for the fashion category including Sini-Pilvi Kiilunen, a Finnish student from Aalto University and Eleanor McDonald, a British student from Central Saint Martins.
This year’s accessories finalists include Chinese designer Tingting Zhang; Australian designer Kira Goodey; Luxembourg designer Jil Jander; and Hungarian design duo Abigail Wirth and Mátyás Meichl.
Other named accessories finalists are currently still students, including Argentinian designer Catalina Albertini, and Colombian designer Laura Olivella from London College of Fashion; Italian designer Eliana Zurlo from Cordwainers at London College of Fashion; and South Korean designers Yeonghyeon Kim from Kookmin University, and Wujic Jo from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Anwerp.
The jewellery finalists include Israeli designer Maya Schossberger-Armoza; Chinese designer Rui Zeng; and Melita Rus from Lithuania.
Independent fashion critic and curator, Angelo Flaccavento expressed his support in an official press release, stating: “it is always interesting and stimulating to witness how young creatives react to what is happening in the world, and ITS is an ideal observatory for this.”
The ITS Award winner receives a prize of €15,000, alongside a 12-month mentorship program by the Tutorship Division of Pitti Immagine, an initiative focused on helping young designers develop with production and distribution, communication strategies, and brand image. The winners also receive the opportunity to showcase a capsule collection at Pitti Uomo 2019.
The second award, by OTB Group – the parent company of Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, and Victor&Rolf – offers the winner a grant of €10,000, plus a potential internship with one of the company’s prestigious labels. In an official press release, the president of OTB Renzo Rosso expressed “I am happy to continue on our path together and I hope that more new talents will one day pride themselves to have started at ITS.”
The 15th edition in 2016 saw Royal College of Art graduate Niels Gundtoft Hansen scoop the OTB award for his menswear collection, which was also shared with German designer Anna Bornhold, winner of the 2015 Chloé prize at the prestigious Hyères International Festival. Upon graduating in 2016, Niels Gundtoft Hansen founded his label HÆRVÆRK, which went on to present at Copenhagen Fashion Week for AW’17.
As partners of ITS, Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI) will offer a grant of €5,000 for one fortunate ITS finalist. Other awards this summer include the Swatch Award, a cash prize of €10,000, along with a six month paid experience at the Swatch LAB in Zurich and the Diesel Award, which offers the winner a six month internship at Diesel’s Italian headquarters. Carlo Giordanetti, the creative director of Swatch International praises ITS as “an ideal dance of ideas where influential personalities, well-known designers and experts join to allow the most incisive young people open up to the future.”
The 15th edition saw New Zealand designer Mayako Kano win the ITS Fashion Award for her ‘Reverse Fade’ collection. The ITS Accessories Award was presented to British footwear designer Helen Kirkum, and jewellery designer Sari Rathel took home the ITS Jewellery Award.
Throughout its sixteen-year history, ITS is supported by OTB Group, Swatch and Illy Caffè, who are all continuing with their partnership for this year’s episode.
This year’s selection panel includes numerous media notables: Simone Marchetti, fashion editor of La Repubblica, and Angelo Flaccavento, a Sicilian-based fashion critic and curator and a regular contributor to L’Officiel Italia and The Business of Fashion. Also on the panel is Sara Maino, deputy editor in chief of Vogue Italia and head of Vogue Talents, who is internationally recognised for nurturing emerging designers and championing talent initiatives, and is a regular attendee at global talent spotting shows.
It will also include Carlo Giordanetti, creative director of Swatch International, as well as, Bryan Yambao, a renowned fashion influencer known for his witty commentary on eponymous fashion blog bryanboy.com.
Throughout its illustrious 16 year history the ITS judging panel has included some of the industry’s most discerning, such as Iris Van Herpen, Uma Wang, Carla Sozzani, Nicholas Kirkwood, Manish Arora, Susie Bubble and Colin McDowell.
The winners will be announced at a grand finale event on June 27th.