In Conversation with Panos Sofianos, curator of Munich’s Bluezone Trade Fair
Where does a brand go to source its fabrics? The answer is probably pushing an open door, but more importantly; to a trade show! Whether we’re talking about a small denim brand or a large multinational, they all go to trade shows to meet business relations, see the latest in fabric developments and to select fabrics for new collections.
Twice a year, Munich is the center of attention in the fashion industry. Hosting MUNICH FABRIC START, a leading international textile trade show, over 1,000 international suppliers from 40 different countries fly to the city in order to show their latest offerings and developments. Part of Munich Fabric Start is BLUEZONE, an independent concept for the denim and sportswear community.
BLUEZONE is an authentic B2B denim trade show which has been in operation since 2004 and has grown to host around 100 international suppliers across two halls of denim inspiration. The suppliers, weavers, finishers and laundries who exhibit are all dedicated to denim and the fair attracts denimheads from all over the world. The show exhibits for two days and is filled with fabrics, trends, creativity, talks and fun. We’ve been following previous editions of the show via blogs and Instagram, but we will finally give acte de presence for BLUEZONE’s upcoming show on February 4th and 5th.
But before we attended the show, we wanted to know a little more on the history of Bluezone and where it’s heading. We reached out to Panos Sofianos, New Business Manager and Curator of BLUEZONE to get the inside scoop. Panos has worked in the industry for decades and has seen more than most. Read on to get his take on what Bluezone means to the world of denim and where the industry is heading.
Robin Denim (RD): Hi Panos, can you please start by introducing yourself and tell us about your involvement with BLUEZONE?
Panos Sofianos (PS): Of course! I would describe myself as ‘Denim Blooded’ since my first involvement with indigo. I started as Co-ordinating Product Manager at a Greek jeans manufacturing company in the early 80’s. Since then I’ve worked with a number of historic brands such as: UFO Jeans, Diesel, Replay, Americanino, Lee Cooper – to name a few. Then I moved on to research and development, working for some distinguished denim mills in Europe. My collaboration with BLUEZONE started 4 years ago as New Business Manager and Curator of the show.
RD: For someone who doesn’t know, what is BLUEZONE?
PS: BLUEZONE is an international trade show catering exclusively to the denim industry. MUNICH FABRIC START launched the first of its kind denim-dedicated show in 2003 and since then BLUEZONE has established itself as one of the most substantial business platforms for the international denim, street and sportswear market. More than 100 established denim weavers, finishers and washers present their latest developments in the authentic setting of a former railway construction hall and coal shelters. You will find leading denim pioneers including Candiani S.p.A., Tejidos Royo, Orta Anadolu, Bossa Denim, Calik Denim, KT Trims and Accessories, Turteks Tekstil, Europa SNC, Fashion Point, Baykanlar Tekstil, Velcorex, Prosperity, Dr. Bock Industries, MFC 1979, Dorlet, Stylers, Lavasser, Lycra and P.G. Denim at BLUEZONE. The show is used as a key event by the denim community to present and discover the finest materials, share knowhow and review the latest innovations in a unique blue-business environment for denim beyond the seasons.
RD: The show acts as an independent part of MUNICH FABRIC START. What made the company decide to develop an independent element of the show dedicated to denim?
PS: Denim is a product with particular development terms, a unique spirit and different market needs. The booming of the international market has guided MUNICH FABRIC START management to act dynamically and launch separate business clusters according to the segments of fashion. BLUEZONE was founded in 2003 as the first dedicated denim-only show and has quickly become one of the most valuable shows of the sector.
RD: Over the last 15 years the denim industry changed significantly. How does BLUEZONE stay relevant?
PS: The show has evolved together with the product. Being good adopters and visionaries at the same time, we never stop evolving the content of BLUEZONE, starting every time from scratch. In all those years, we have tried to think outside of the box, building cutting edge concepts such as TIST (Tomorrow Is Today), RMS (Ready Made Solutions), the KEYHOUSE innovation platform and many more.
RD: What makes BLUEZONE different than other denim trade shows?
PS: It’s Profashionality, if I may use this gimmick word. We aim for a multidisciplinary event as we believe that denim is not a simple fabric but a coinciding story of multiple issues and parameters.
RD: What is the key to BLUEZONE’s success?
PS: It’s diversity and uniqueness. It’s dedication to every invisible detail. It’s friendliness to exhibitors and visitors. Our philosophy is beyond a simple trade show promoting fabrics for selling. It’s so much more than this.
RD: As BLUEZONE is a B2B event, fabric sales are likely central to the activity at the show. What else can be found at Bluezone?
PS: As said above, we bring freshness to the blue community, with exceptional seminars such as the Rivet 50 gathering, round tables about the future of denim through automation, the evolution of the supply chain through RMG, new synergies and partnerships about transparency, special screenings, and trend presentations. And last but not least providing a platform where business can be done with pleasure as we like to say.
RD: The theme for the upcoming show is ECOISM. Can you explain this term and describe how it will be realized at the show?
PS: The word speaks for itself. Let us forget our ego – it’s time for eco and togetherness. We aim to see our industry reacting more responsibly and effectively towards the environmental problem. We are inviting everybody from the blue community to act consciously and be part of the denim revolution.
RD: Sustainability is high on the agenda of most denim manufacturers. What do you think of this development and how does BLUEZONE contribute to the subject?
PS: We are stimulating and encouraging our exhibitors as much as possible to show real concepts on green innovation. This time, for example, we asked them to send us only sustainably certified products for our trend installations. As a result, the visitor will enjoy seeing the latest eco concepts in 8 satellite trend areas.
RD: When speaking about the upcoming show, what are you most looking forward to?
PS: A real concern about green newness and a clear mission to reduce the impact of the denim industry emissions against climate change. We must be part of the solution and not part of the problem. And, of course, to meet all the wonderful people and friends of the blue community again – during the highly interesting panel discussions and keynotes and at the M/unique Moods party taking place the first evening of the show.
Panos, thank you so much for your time providing us with an in-depth overview of BLUEZONE. We are looking forward to visiting and covering the event next month!