By Robin | August 01, 2023

Bluezone: Two decades of ConneXXion

During the eventful days of July 18th and 19th, the denim world converged in Munich for Bluezone, the highly anticipated international denim trade show. Set within the enchanting Zenith Halle, the show fostered a denim-centric ambiance, providing industry leaders with a platform to showcase how they are paving the way towards a brighter and more circular future. Boasting the participation of approximately 100 leading denim manufacturers from around the globe, Bluezone exhibitors are at the forefront of denim innovations and developments, and they seized their opportunity to highlight their upcoming fabrics and discuss trends in the dynamic denim industry.

The two days seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, reflecting the industry’s unwavering drive to move forward, its deep yearning for togetherness, and its candid acknowledgment of challenges and vulnerabilities. Exhibitors showcased their latest fabric innovations and manufacturing methods, reaffirming their adamantine commitment to creating a more responsible and sustainable denim industry.

This edition of Bluezone was scheduled earlier on the agenda than usual. The Covid slowdown is still rippling through the industry, and, as organizers predicted, visitor traffic was not as high as it has been in previous years, but there were signs that things are slowly returning to normal. Day two was significantly busier than day one, and the hall buzzed with conversation and collaboration. At the end of the two days, Bluezone’s significant customers, contributors, and partners reported that they valued the date shift and were pleased to participate in the show.

We, Robin Meijerink and photographer Koen Kuik, were both in attendance at Bluezone ConneXXion to immerse ourselves in another remarkable edition of the event, report on the show through our social media channels and websites, and to capture some (analog) photographs of the show’s highlights and key figures.

ORTA @ BluezonePhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Our Perspective on Bluezone ConneXXion

Having attended Bluezone for several consecutive years, we have grown accustomed to its consistently high level of organization and meticulous attention to even the smallest details.

The small yet dedicated team behind Bluezone consistently excels in creating an environment perfectly suited for the denim industry, fostering an inspiring and captivating atmosphere. This year was no exception.

For ConneXXion, they made adjustments to the setup in the Zenith Halle, resulting in a more spacious and inviting atmosphere. The theme “ConneXXion” was carefully selected to commemorate Bluezone’s 20th anniversary, and this concept was impeccably reflected throughout the entire show. Marked by two prominent XX’s at the stage and an enormous banner (and we mean HUGE) showcasing photos of industry insiders. Bluezone illustrated the inseparable bond between its two decades of success and the industry it thrives in.

Bryan Szabo on stagePhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Better than any of the other denim trade shows, Bluezone excels in bridging the gap between denim subcultures, particularly the raw denim scene, and the show. This year, Ruedi Karrer, better known as the Swissjeansfreak, curated his largest-yet expo of the Jeansmuseum at Bluezone. Displaying approximately 100 pairs of jeans, including the very pair that sparked his love for denim, Ruedi showcased the true power of raw denim. Bryan Szabo, the mastermind behind the world’s largest fading contest, the Indigo Invitational, also made an appearance, presenting the top 10 best-faded pairs of jeans and giving an engaging talk on the sustainable consumer habits that the competition incentivizes.

On the stage, Bluezone presented a thoughtfully curated selection of panels and talks led by industry experts. Across both Keyhouse and Bluezone, the two-day event featured a continuous series of lectures addressing the industry’s hottest topics. Bluezone’s trend curator, Tilmann Wröbel, enlightened the audience with the latest trends and significant influences in the industry. The event also featured discussions on crucial topics such as regenerative cotton and hemp, decarbonizing denim, and circularity—valuable information for the denim experts in attendance.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

What the Industry Had to Say About Bluezone

During and after the show, we reached out to exhibitors to gather insights and create a comprehensive and widely supported recap. Here’s what some of the industry insiders told us about their Bluezone experience this year.

Sebla Onder, Sustainability Chief at ORTA

“We have been a part of Bluezone for many years now, and we always enjoy collaborating and co-create together. This year, we got the chance to celebrate an important milestone of both ORTA and Bluezone families together. I loved the positive vibe of the ConneXXion show, the colors, decorations, trend area, the whole set-up inside and out. It was definitely a summer event. I was only able to attend some of the Bluezone panels and I must say they were definitely about the hot topics: regenerative cotton, hemp, upcoming ESG legislations… I am glad to see these topics discussed in a trade fair, and I hope to see more and more of them in future shows”.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Jose Ochoa, Northern European Sales Manager at Evlox

“We very much enjoy attending Bluezone every edition as it is a great opportunity for us to meet our northern European customers as well as many potential customers from all over Europe. This was the first time the show was celebrated in July so we cannot really compare it to any other edition, but we have been thrilled with all the customers we have met at the show and the new connections we have been able to establish with potential clients.”

Haman Alimardani, Fashion Designer at Hamansutra

“My first impression of the Bluezone is always the same – the unbelievable amount of work involved in a show, six months of organization for just two days of show. Making an impression with a show stand is always a mammoth project for the organizers and for us exhibitors alike, whether it’s for a 20th anniversary or the standard seasonal shows. I regard trade shows as a kind of World’s Fair. Miss them, and you and your product fail to catch the zeitgeist and miss out on success. Any trade show is like a club; if you don’t turn up, you’ve missed something, and you and your work will always be one step behind.”

HamansutraPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Bluezone Highlights

At the two-day show, we had the pleasure of meeting the incredible Ksenia Schnaider, the visionary founder of Kyiv-based brand Kseniaschnaider. Working together with Anton Schnaider, Ksenia has been crafting garments from second-hand denim since 2011, well ahead of the upcycling trend. The brand’s production exclusively occurs in Ukraine, predominantly relying on manual labor, resulting in a noticeably time-consuming process. The Ukrainian brand gained global acclaim starting in 2016 and has since been adorning many celebrities worldwide.

Another standout feature at Bluezone ConneXXion was Hamansutra’s striking presentation of their recent collaborations. The Munich-based denim brand proudly presented two recent partnerships, one with the renowned Spanish denim manufacturer, Evlox, and another with Disney. The collaboration with the iconic animator resulted in the creation of “Hulk Jeans”, a special edition commemorating the Hulk’s 60th birthday. The brand claims these jeans are entirely unrippable. If the idea of trying to rip an unrippable pair of jeans intrigues you, be sure to visit the brand’s website for more details.

Ksenia SchnaiderPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.

As a part of Munich Fabric Start, Bluezone features Keyhouse, an atmospheric industrial space entirely dedicated to sustainability. At Keyhouse, the industry gathers to share the latest developments and innovations in the field of sustainability. During our visit to Keyhouse, we had the pleasure of meeting Roua, the visionary behind Roua Ateliers, an Amsterdam-based studio dedicated to sustainable natural dyeing and unique techniques. With a steadfast commitment to utilizing solely eco-friendly materials and local natural dye pigments, Roua collaborates closely with textile material designers and companies to pioneer sustainable textile production methods.

Show after show, Bluezone continues to unite the denim industry in an unparalleled and inspiring atmosphere. Notably, the dedicated team behind the show meticulously curates a platform that caters to all facets of the denim industry. We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the remarkable Bluezone team for organizing yet another extraordinary fair, fostering a fantastic ambience that brings the denim community together. Thank you for providing us with an amazing experience and for allowing us to be a part of it! Hats off to you all!

Bluezone BannerPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.

The Industry is Calling! Join us at Bluezone

Year after year, Bluezone organizers deliver an unforgettable show. They provide everything the industry requires to come together, collaborate, and shape the denim industry in a familiar and open atmosphere, and now it’s the industry’s turn to join in. Here’s why four loyal attendees think you should attend Bluezone’s next show:

Ruedi Karrer, Fouder of the Jeans Museum in Zurich

“Bluezone continues to concentrate on sustainability and encourages the whole denim industry to improve itself, which is important because of the big global footprint of the denim industry. This includes cleaner production of longer-lasting items, going back to the raw denim roots, recycling, reuse, repurpose… All in all, these reasons alone make a compelling case to visit Bluezone!”

Mathieu Bonneville, Business Developer at Stella Blu Textile

“I believe Bluezone is an essential show for the German market and the news that the next edition of Denim by PV will take place in Milan instead of Berlin will surely draw more customers to Bluezone. I still think it would be better to hold the next AW edition earlier in June because at the end of July some of our clients are already on holidays. But in general, it is a great show to share more knowledge on the German market which is one of the most important for Stella Blu”.

BluezonePhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Panos Sofianos, Circular Denim Consultant and Denim Curator at Bluezone and Munich Fabric Start

“Over the past 20 years, our attitude has been dedicated to supporting the industry, constantly evolving, and establishing new business clusters. Above all, we have a relentless thirst for creating new concepts in this fast-moving market. Our aim and mission are to explore all possibilities, and we start planning our next event immediately, focusing on innovation, communication, and education. As a family-managed company, we uphold our visions and bravery with resilience and high morals. Just wait and see – surprises await!”

Sajna Weber and Thorsten Bulander, owners of the full-service design studio SAAT

“BLUEZONE is a denim trade show that represents the latest developments in denim, the foremost color and material trends, and the presentation of a carefully curated, high-quality product portfolio in a personal and professional atmosphere that brings together all denim heads. The professional talks, views, panels, and events underscore the exclusivity of the show. The participating speakers are always carefully chosen, representing the Crème de la Crème of the industry.”

Once again, Bluezone surpassed expectations with their exceptional organization of ConneXXion. The lineup of exhibitors, panels, lectures, and the overall theme and setup of the show were all executed to an incredible high standard. After attending Bluezone for several consecutive years, we firmly believe that everyone from the denim industry should join us at the next Bluezone. Beyond being the ultimate destination for those seeking the latest denim fabrics, Bluezone serves as a vital platform for networking and collaboratively shaping a thriving future for our beloved industry. Be sure to mark your calendar for the upcoming Bluezone show. We look forward to seeing you there!

F'BLUE @ Bluezone
Killim Denim

Bluezone uniformsPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.