Denim is an absolutely unique and special fabric that has been exciting and inspiring designers for seasons on end. Lately we’ve seen numerous collections where denim was not just a part of the line but in fact was its focal point. With that said there couldn’t have been a better place or time than Milan’s Triennale Design Museum on Men’s Fashion Week launch day for the opening of The Global Denim Awards Exhibit which celebrates the collaboration of Dutch fashion designers with the most progressive Italian denim mills.

Here you can experience firsthand the truly exciting works of the Global Denim Awards participants of the last three years. Anbasja Blanken, the 2016 winner, created her collection in collaboration with ITV Denim, one of the most innovative and sustainability focused mills in the world. Together they developed an astonishing glow-in-the-dark denim with waterproof qualities in certain pieces and even incorporated optic fibers and LED lights into the fabric weave. Instead of using washes with high water consumption and harsh treatments like bleaching, Anbasja and ITV chose a basic rinse and laser finishing for the fabrics to minimize any harmful environmental impact.

ITV Denim also partnered with 2014 GDA winner Jonathan Christopher, a young but well-recognized designer and stylist. His Nomadum collection was created using an exclusive development from ITV called WINE-TEX which replaces standard synthetic dies with wine!!! With certain tweaks like adjusting the water temperature and PH levels a wide range of colors from yellow to black can be achieved through this process. Some garments were done using zero water (!) thanks to this special method resulting in ultra soft yarn thereby eliminating the need for further processing. Additionally, several pieces of this collection were made from leftover production fabric; Jonathan certainly did not let anything go to waste!

Sartoria Diletto x Candiani Denim took first prize at the 2015 Global Denim Awards with a collaboration that resulted in a luxurious, quintessentially Italian collection of impeccably tailored suiting. For this project the designer and the mill, while focused strictly on using sustainable materials, created exclusive wool-like fabrics and chose laser finishing over washes requiring water consumption and chemicals. They also introduced a new recycled fiber selvage denim created on traditional artisan shuttle looms using re-worked blends of natural and artificial yarn.

Alexandra Frida x ITV Denim, another bright (literally and figuratively) participant at the 2015 GDA’s, created one of the most colorful and vivid collections of the exhibit. Laser-cut, brilliantly hued garments produced using digital printing were made from an ITV exclusive organic cotton called MIRCO denim. Alexandra also dedicated a few full days to collect and personally rework the waste textile to create a beautiful, feather-like bomber.

EDITHMARCEL x Berto Industria Tessile were one of the standout participants of the 2016 Global Denim Awards as they presented a line of beautifully crafted, clean line garments created from chic and luxurious denim. In this collection which takes us through key milestones in fashion history the world of indigo denim truly merges with the opulent, lux look and texture of cashmere, the finest wool and silk.

This exhibit truly showcases the future of denim and its place in fashion where design and craftsmanship go hand in hand with innovation and sustainability. Platforms such as the Global Denim Awards are instrumental in highlighting and linking these components together. Mariette Hoitink, the co-founder of the Global Denim Awards, clearly understands this and works hard to make it happen. The House of Denim Foundation is another important project of hers that “through education, innovation, enterprise and networking projects strives to make the world of jeans dryer, cleaner and smarter”.

The Global Denim Awards Exhibit will be open till June 23rd when the Dutch King and Queen will attend for a guided tour by Mariette.

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I am the EU contributor and product reviewer for Denimology. From the time I was 5 years old browsing through my first fashion magazine I knew I wanted to be in this industry. While working as a Merchandiser at Gloria Jeans, the largest denim manufacturer and retailer in Russia, I discovered my passion for denim. It fascinated me then and years later it fascinates me even more. Every day I learn and discover something new and exciting about denim and am thrilled to do it hand in hand with all of you!