This article is sponsored by Bluezone, Munich Fabric Start‘s independent trade show for denim and sportswear. Register to visit here!

… And One Very Special Reason We’re So Excited About this Winter’s Show

Written by Bryan Szabo

When I last visited Munich with Thomas at the end of August 2022, we arrived at the Bluezone show as spectators. Thomas has been going to Bluezone since 2016, but it was my first time.

Hanging out at Ruedi‘s place with Guido from Blaumann at the show in August 2022

We mingled with denim insiders, chatting at exhibitors’ booths, and we sat in the audience and listened as some of the denim world’s brightest minds discussed both the present and the future of the industry.

Since then, we’ve watched the industry with eyes opened by what we saw and heard in Munich. To cite one example, we’ve noticed—as have many of you—that denim prices are on the rise nearly across the board. In August, we heard the reasons for this straight from the horse’s mouth. 

One of the Transformers talks at Bluezone in August, 2022
A Transformers talk at Bluezone in August, 2022

Sharply rising energy costs were placing severe pressures on established and upstart manufacturers alike. Whether they have raised their prices or not, brands have absorbed the lion’s share of these costs (either that, or these costs are being absorbed elsewhere in their supply chain).

We’re eager to hear more about this, and we’ll report from the show on what we’re hearing from brands and manufacturers.

The list of exhibitors the January 2023 Bluezone show

What Keeps Us Coming Back (Again and Again)

It was this kind of behind-the-scenes look at the industry that brought us to Bluezone in August, and this is definitely one of the reasons that we’re returning this January (we’ll get to the biggest reason we’re excited about this year’s Bluezone below). 

There’s really no place in Europe like the Bluezone show. The denim trade show was the first-of-its-kind platform for denim, street, and sportswear manufacturers and brands. The show’s important for the industry, and, like so many in the industry, we draw a big circle around the week it happens in our calendars. 

There’s no particular focus on selvedge, and it’s not a consumer fair, so we won’t be returning from the show with suitcases bursting with goodies. That’s not why we go to Bluezone, though. We go to learn from and connect with those in the business of making and selling denim. 

Each year, the event draws around 90 international exhibitors covering a wide range of denim, street, and sportswear. It represents the best opportunity for those of us in Europe to get a global sense of what is driving the denim industry–not just what they produce, but how they are producing it, and what measures they are taking to make the industry more responsible and sustainable.

Andrew Olah (left) from Kingpins and Transformers stares into the camera at Bluezone

Key to this is Transformers Foundation, which, following a successful partnership in August, has partnered with Bluezone once more. Led by Kingpins founder Andrew Olah, Transformers will be leading a pair of talks on denim sustainability and industry ethics. If last Bluezone was any indication, these talks and the lively discussions they generate will be a major highlight of the show.

But wait, there’s more… 

The Best Reason to Visit Bluezone This Year

For the first time, we’ll be going to Bluezone this year as presenters together. We’re covering the event as members of the press, but we’re also part of the event. At 5pm on the 24th (right before the evening’s festivities begin), we’ll be giving a talk we’ve titled “Denim and the Renegade: Selling Rebel Style”.

Using our book, The Rebel’s Wardrobe, as the foundation, we’ll look briefly at the role that denim has played in the long and multi-faceted history of rebel style. For the better part of a century, denim and countercultures have been inextricably linked, and the most successful denim brands have, time and again, found a way to tap into these subcultures.

They’ve done so by speaking in a highly visual language that resonates with rebels. It’s not enough to merely be a denim brand. Denim is no longer a rebellious fabric in and of itself. To reach the rebel, denim must be placed in the right frame—one that either highlights its long history of radical disruption or one that cuts diagonally across the contemporary mainstream.

After the talk, we’ll be selling and signing copies of our book. As an author, there’s really no better feeling than passing a signed copy from hand to hand. The response to the book has really been incredible so far, and we’ve seen copies of the book travelling far and wide. With the international nature of the show, it looks like more copies of the books will be heading into parts unknown.

You’ll also be able to find us in the Bloggers Lounge, where there’ll be a special exhibit celebrating Ruedi (aka Swiss Jeans Freak) and his incredible 50 years of collecting denim. Some of the highlights from his Jeans Museum will be displayed side by side with new pieces to show the true depths of raw denim evolution.

If you’re at the show, come by for a visit and a chat. We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Author

This article was written by Bryan Szabo, founder of the Indigo Invitational Fade Competition. Bryan's on a mission to educate newcomers to the world of raw denim on some of the finer points of buying, wearing, and fading denim.

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