Two Decades of BLUEZONE: A Conversation with Sebastian Klinder
The denim dedicated trade show BLUEZONE emerged as a ground-breaking concept in 2003, marking the inception of its kind. At that time, there was no such thing as a denim trade show, a concept which has smoothly and successfully been grounded in the denim industry by Sebastian Klinder and his team. As it embarks on its 20th anniversary, this year’s edition of BLUEZONE ConneXXion – taking place on July 18 and 19 – promises to be an extraordinary celebration.
In 2003, the first BLUEZONE show took place at the Zenith Halle in München, which has remained its venue ever since. The team poured all their energy and vision into launching this new tradeshow format as a standalone concept for denim and sportswear, coinciding with Munich Fabric Start. Over the years, BLUEZONE has unfolded at the Zenith Halle, creating countless positive moments and experiences. The location itself has undergone modernizations and extensions, growing alongside the trade show, establishing a relationship that is built to withstand future developments.
Robin Meijerink recently sat down with Sebastian Klinder to speak about the past 20 years of BLUEZONE, its core values, and highlighting the significance of the upcoming ConneXXion show as a special anniversary celebration.
Robin: Dear Sebastian, congratulations on 20 years of BLUEZONE! Could you kindly provide an introduction to the BLUEZONE concept and elaborate on its relationship with Munich Fabric Start?
Sebastian: Since the first of its kind denim dedicated trade show in 2003, BLUEZONE has established itself as one of the most substantial business platforms for the global denim, street and sportswear market. While BLUEZONE has a strict focus on these segments, its size wise bigger sister platform MUNICH FABRIC START mirrors the whole fashion market within eight areas and is even around since 1996. The venues of MUNICH FABRIC START and BLUEZONE are located directly opposite to each other and the two shows are always held simultaneously, thus creating a highly synergetic environment for both exhibitors and their approximately 20,000 international visitors.
Robin: As we celebrate the anniversary of BLUEZONE, reflecting on its journey, what key milestones and achievements do you believe have contributed to its success and prominence in the industry?
Sebastian: Ever since its launch BLUEZONE has been about bringing together the right people. The right exhibitors that show the right solutions and the right visitors that are on the search for the right products. But bringing those two together at the right time and in the right place might only reflect half of BLUEZONEs success. As we all know denim is a completely different story than all the other fashion segments. While this sectors development regarding aesthetic trends and technological innovations has been mind-blowing in the past 20 years, one aspect has always remained the same – that denim is way more of a community business than the outside textile world. We try to pay respect to both of these facets by collaborating with the right experts and some of the best-connected persons in the denim universe and trusting on their advice – regardless whether it’s about our broad edutainment program, our beloved trend areas or about the nearly as important third half of the game: networking, gathering, mingling and partying…
Robin: In light of the significant changes in the denim industry and the ongoing process of digitalization since its establishment, how does BLUEZONE manage to stay relevant?
Sebastian: BLUEZONE evolves in tandem with the denim industry. In addition to providing timeless denim options, we place a special emphasis on the latest advancements. Therefore, on one hand, we ensure that our educational offerings and masterclasses remain up to date, showcasing innovations, trend and concept zones, and providing a diverse range of exhibitors who focus on technology and future-oriented solutions. They offer valuable insights into specific market demands, developments, and product ranges. On the other hand, we also prioritize continuity, recognizing its significance in meeting visitors’ expectations. For the past 20 years, BLUEZONE has successfully presented an international portfolio of well-established denim mills, experts in ready-made garment production, and reliable service providers. These exhibitors are strategically staged to create an exceptional experience.
Robin: What are the core values and beliefs that BLUEZONE holds as the most important? Have these values and beliefs evolved over the past 20 years?
Sebastian: With an unwavering dedication to excellence and a deeply innovative mindset, BLUEZONE has established itself as a pivotal event for showcasing premium materials, sharing expertise, and exploring cutting-edge innovations and trends in the ever-evolving world of denim. Our distinctive atmosphere creates a blue-blooded environment that transcends seasonal boundaries, providing a unique platform for denim enthusiasts. These core values have been ingrained in our DNA from the very inception of BLUEZONE, and we continue to hold them dear.
Robin: Over the past 20 years, the world has experienced a pandemic, ongoing conflicts like the war in Ukraine, and inflation. How has BLUEZONE managed to navigate these challenges and ensure the show’s existence?
Sebastian: We believe in our concept, that is reinforced by the consistently fully booked exhibition halls in past seasons. This resounding success motivates us to continue on our current path. However, we also recognize the importance of adapting to external circumstances and embracing change. While we remain committed to the core principles that have made us successful, we understand the need to evolve and adjust to the ever-changing industry landscape. By staying attuned to market trends, listening to our participants, and being responsive to external factors, we strive to maintain our position as a leading denim event while simultaneously embracing new opportunities for growth and improvement. So this year for example, BLUEZONE will take place this summer on the earlier dates of July 18 and 19 for the first time ever. With this change we are reacting to new order and collection rhythms and will position ourselves in the future at the beginning of the purchasing and sourcing phase.
Robin: As you selected the theme ConneXXion for the twentieth anniversary of the trade show, I am curious to know what personal significance the concept of ConneXXion holds for you?
Sebastian: Everything is interconnected, and this year, all the elements align perfectly. ConneXXion serves as the fitting guiding theme for the upcoming event, which will be a grand celebration of the beloved blue fabric we all cherish. 2023 is not only BLUEZONE’s anniversary year: this summer marks the 150th anniversary of the patenting of jeans, Orta celebrates its 70th birthday in 2023 and denim icon Ruedi Karrer celebrates the 50th of “The Jeans Museum” in Zurich. Vicunha is celebrating its 55th birthday. Through these significant milestones, BLUEZONE pays homage to denim in all its diverse facets. It is a testament to the enduring legacy, cultural impact, and ongoing innovation within the world of denim.
Robin: BLUEZONE has demonstrated a remarkable ability to develop and incorporate specific themes into their shows. How can we expect the theme of ConneXXion to be showcased and brought to life in the upcoming July event?
Sebastian: Just as always: loud and proud and with pure excitement and joy. I cannot answer this question in any other way than with inviting everyone who is curious to see how we’ll manage to do so to come to Munich on the 18th of July! And let me add one serious thought: ConneXXion has one undertone – I truly believe that it is über important to bring back the fun into our beloved denim, fashion, textile world. And therefore we all have to reconnect; reconnect with our personal goals and convictions, reconnect with our businesses and values; reconnect with what’s essential and last but not least reconnect with each other – that’s why it’s all about ConneXXion.
Robin: What makes BLUEZONE ConneXXion a must-attend event for all denim professionals?
Sebastian: For sure, this year our line-up will come with a big bang! The show is already fully booked, so visitors can expect leading denim pioneers showcase their most recent denim novelties to the international denim and fashion community – Calik, Denim Authority, Isko, Kurabo, Naveena Denim, NDL, Orta, Royo, Saitex and Sharabati among many others. Furthermore, as always, there will be two seminars featuring Transformers Foundation as well as panels with Women in Denim, Mohsin Sajid and The 5 Denim Senses by AMD Düsseldorf, plus installations such as the photo exhibition “The World’s best Denim Fades” by Bryan Szabo, founder of the Indigo Invitational, the exhibition by designer Ksenia Schnaider and a special presentation by “The Jeans Museum” Zurich, through which Ruedi Karrer himself will give guided tours. And last but not least: at MUNICH FABRIC NIGHT on July 18, we will celebrate 20 years of BLUEZONE. Let’s get this party started!
This article was commissioned by the international denim trade show Bluezone and is written by Robin Meijerink. With mutual agreement, the article has also been published on robindenim.com. You can find the original article here.
Did you know that Bluezone’s next show is on July 18th and 19th in Munich? Learn more about Bluezone, here.