To share or not to share, that is the question. The first Milanese edition of the Denim Première Vision show at Superstudio Più on via Tortona brought together three creative minds to discuss the relationship between the use of denim and its visual impact on digital platforms. Kristian Guerra, designer and co-founder of the Italian brand Ice Surface Temperature, moderated the panel with Sophie Hardeman, creative director of the eponymous Dutch denim brand Hardeman and Filippo Maria Bianchi, creative director of FLMRS studio, the Italian and British based company producing digital immersive experience installations.
The live discussion began with the acknowledgement that new codes of contemporary denim are derived from the interaction between design and art. The discussion also highlighted the importance of the information exchange between brands and the final consumers, as well as among different brands. “Denim unites us because it’s something that speaks to everyone,” said Hardeman.
“When you wear jeans, you are immediately able to connect to everyone,” she added. Hardeman launched her line in 2015, and since the brand’s inception, she used denim to break conventions and to define the contemporary meaning of jeans as a symbol of freedom. Through her work, she portrays a gender-fluid society, thus sending out a message where aesthetics blend with cultural issues.
All three speakers agreed on the importance of delivering a message through denimwear. “When addressing an audience, content is key. We are stepping away from pure entertainment and trends. The most effective way to communicate comes from adding more value to what brands say. The main goal today is to leave a mark, by doing something that is geared towards social media, but that can also be relevant in an art gallery or a public space,” Bianchi said.
“Denim must find a way to push the limits. It is a global icon, with specific references which now need to be reinvented. Jeanswear has to distance itself from the traditional way it has been represented, up until now,” Guerra said.
Experimentation should be challenging everyone who is involved with denim — from mills to designers, Hardeman explained.
“I think we should all ask ourselves how far we can go and still do something that is essentially jeans. I remember my father wearing denimwear since I was a kid… But what did it mean to him back then? Moreover, what does it mean to me now? I believe that denim can be a deeper thought about today’s society,” she said.
With a different approach to jeanswear it will be easier to penetrate young generations, Guerra added.
“The change, though, must also come from the technology of denim, because the audience wants to know how a garment has been made, starting from the actual fabric” Guerra pointed out.
“Brands should be an expression of the whole production process and make people live an experience where questions are raised, rather than an experience where answers are given. Our task is to inspire the next generations with what we do,” he said.
The spread of social media is an excellent way to share ideas. “My brand wouldn’t be here without Instagram,” Hardeman, underlined. “ The attention is never focused on just the clothes. There is always a story around them. What I also like about social media is that you can easily connect to interesting people. I can broaden my vision through them and collaborate,” she added.
Collaboration is a central point also for Bianchi. “Society tends to isolate people, but the future is more and more a question of collaborations.”
“Collaboration also means sharing what has been achieved in terms of research. I think we all have to fight the idea that innovation should be secret. New techniques will circulate more; the era of secrecy is over,” Guerra added.
Since denim production can have a substantial impact on the planet, sustainability practises are a strategic topic to be disclosed to the public. “We have to be positive about the future,” Hardeman said. “That’s the reason why we work with the waste of denim suppliers, and we try to design long-lasting, non-seasonal clothes.”
Talking more about green production methods increases the awareness on such issues, Kristian Guerra emphasized. “We need to change the system’s approach to things, so we can positively impact people’s perspective.”
Youth need hope, much more than they do garments or accessories, Bianchi explained.
“They are the ones who will have the chance to make this world a better place, so when brands are talking to them, they should always remember that.”
Even the best product is not enough. There must be a story behind it. “The real making of sometimes can be even more fun than the final result, so we encourage brands to illustrate that,” Bianchi stated. “Technology can be a great way to express a company’s values,” Guerra concluded.
Report written by Cristina Manfredi, journalist