By Robin | March 06, 2024

Bluezones’ Signature(s)

A few weeks ago, Bluezone hosted its biannual show, and the global denim industry was invited to come together in Munich, Germany. Under the banner Signature, Bluezone emphasized the importance of a clear and unique vision in an ever- changing world. During the show, and together with stakeholders covering every facet of the denim industry, Bluezone took further steps to keep track in their mission to innovate towards a brighter and greener future. Through all of this, they managed to stay grounded in the core values and principles of denim.

The banner also highlights Bluezones’ unique signature—the unique foundation of vision and mission that is the cornerstone of all Bluezone shows. At Bluezone Signature, visitors were invited to discover the latest denim collections and innovations, to get inspired and equipped to become part of the sustainable revolution. Literally every single manufacturer present at the show, every lecture, and every panel underscored the importance of sustainability and innovation. This kind of industry-wide buy-in (long sought by those who have worked hard to transform the denim industry) bodes very well for the future of our industry.

As mentioned in our article prior to the show, we traveled to Munich with high expectations. We were, to say the least, not disappointed in the least. Bluezone Signature was an incredibly high-level and well-organized show. It really felt as though Munich was denim’s true-blue hometown for the two days of the show. We spoke with dozens of mills, and opinions about the show were broadly positive. Especially after some tough years during and after Covid, people are now starting to see the kind of positive change they’ve been waiting for. The industry is hopeful and optimistic about both the near future and the more distant horizon.

During the show, we spoke with countless passionate denim experts and professionals. Below, we will look at some of the signatures of the latest Bluezone edition.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

SIGNATURE #1: Groundbreaking Collections

Bluezone is an international denim trade show with a clear focus on providing a venue for buyers and sellers of denim fabrics. Season after season, Bluezone has attracted the major denim manufacturers and suppliers from the denim supply chain. They then connect these manufacturers to buyers from leading brands. At every edition of Bluezone, manufacturers promote their latest collections, showcasing their groundbreaking innovations and developments. While there are simply too many amazing denim collections to cover all of them, three collections really jumped out at us.

We hear the world breathing by ORTA

Turkish manufacturer Orta celebrated their 70th anniversary at the previous edition of Bluezone, and they brought a handful of amazing collections to the Signature show. The highlight was their “We hear the world breathing” collection, which uses 100% regenerative cotton denim fabrics. Orta’s new collection represents a continuum of their design aesthetics and ethics that embrace art, technology, and sustainability with an industry-leading regenerative denim model of use longer, circulate, and regenerate. The fabrics breathe luxury and high-skilled tailoring, showing that denim is far more than just a workwear fabric.

Haru by Artistic Fabric Mills

With a large-scale, fully vertical denim operation based in Karachi, Artistic Fabric Mills have a clear vision to scale up consciously with a business model based on circularity. This makes them a perfect fit for the Bluezone line-up. At Bluezone Signature, Artistic Fabric Mills brought a full range of new collections, including Haru, which means “spring” in Japanese. Haru is a fully Japanese-inspired line. With Quadru Flex, the Haru collections were designed to deliver great four-way denim stretchability while maintaining a typical Japanese ‘slubby’ look, color shades and construction. With incorporating four-way stretch into the fabric, Artistic Fabric Mills improved the fabric’s size consistency, giving their denims a clean look of comfort with deep shades and prolonged wear.

Cooltrans by Stella Blu

Stella Blu, the product division of Prosperity Textile, proudly unveiled its first Cooltrans denim collection at Bluezone Signature. Stella Blu has pioneered the adoption of NTX Cooltrans, a groundbreaking waterless coloration technology, into its production of denim and colored denim fabrics. The Cooltrans coloration process happens with extreme precision and consistency and is applicable to almost any fabric. Unique to the Cooltrans technique is that the aesthetic of the washing can be completely independent of the fabric composition. Finishing denim with Cooltrans eliminates the need for heat and leads to a reduction of 90% in water usage, while the fabric’s engineered feel and functional performance remain uncompromised.  

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

SIGNATURE #2: Fantastic Collaborations

Over the years, Bluezone has proven to be a melting pot of fantastic collaborations between its exhibitors and visitors, and Bluezone Signature was no exception. The informal and inspiring atmosphere at Bluezone brings together industry professionals and naturally leads to companies joining forces. The Bluezone shows are the perfect place to discover new relationships and elaborate on existing ideas. Bluezone is the exquisite location to showcase these collaborations to the public. At Bluezone Signature, numerous collaborations have been unveiled, including the following:

The Signature Collection by SAATMUNICH

Same as for previous editions of Bluezone, SAATMUNICH designed and developed the outfits for the Bluezone staff. The SAATMUNICH Design Studio acts as a central link, drawing on its longstanding partnership to contribute expertise in sustainable conception, creation and production. Together with three selected partners – CALIK Denim as a material expert, Le Faxx Jeans as a renowned denim manufacturer, and nat-2TM as an innovative and sustainable shoe partner – SAATMUNICH developed an amazing outfit perfectly representing the Signature theme. This partnership combined the core competencies of all four partners to create a unique and fantastic denim look for the Bluezone hostesses.

Isko x Adriano Goldschmidt

One of the world’s leading denim makers, Isko, teamed up with the legendary Adriano Goldschmidt for a unique collection. The collaboration is inspired by eighteenth-century magnificence, which they have combined with innovative material science. This unique collaboration brought to life the designer’s vision while utilizing the versatility of ISKO’s Ctrl+Z material science. Ctrl+Z, introduced in 2022, is Isko’s circularity fiber revolution. Isko’s Ctrl+Z fabrics are made from a pure blend of recycled and regenerative cotton and polyester with regenerated cellulosic fibers, and can be applied to all of their products. By collaborating with Adriano Goldschmidt, Isko put attention on the beauty and versatility of their recent sustainable developments.

Sharabati x Sashiko Denim: Making Sustainable Denim an Art Form

Sharabati Denim is a major integrated and eco-friendly denim manufacturer with two fully integrated mills in Egypt and Turkey. Their primary focus is to be a reliable partner for the fashion-brands and producers they work with. They do this by providing inspirational, durable, sustainably-made collections for their customer’s styles and end-consumer preferences. At Bluezone Signature, Sharabati teamed up with Sashiko Denim not only to showcase the ancient Japanese hand-stitch techniques but also to raise awareness about the significance of repairing and repurposing clothing. Visitors could see how Sashiko Denim elevates denim repair to an art form, and they could try and practice the ancient Japanese Sashiko technique on Sharabati’s denim fabrics by themselves.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Orta x Long John: The Biggest Sustainable Jeans

The well-known Turkish denim manufacturer Orta teamed up with the Dutch denim specialist Long John to present the biggest sustainable pair of blue jeans ever made. The idea of making something that stands out came when ORTA developed a new, sustainable denim fabric. As a long-time Orta partner, Long John sat down with them to think about a way they could present this innovative denim fabric in a way that would make it unmissable. They did this and more. The biggest sustainable jeans were made with a waist size 133 and a total length of around 4,5 meters. The enormous eye-catcher was showcased at the entrance of Bluezone Signature. Will this pair of jeans make it to the Guinness World Records?

Black Horse Lane x Evlox: London Aesthetic

Spanish denim manufacturer Evlox teamed up with the British atelier Blackhorse Lane for a collaboration they called London Aesthetic. With London Aesthetic, the two combined six sustainable Spanish denim fabrics with skilled British tailoring in a magnificent way. The collaboration includes a collection of six sustainable denim fabrics, which were kept raw, each of them featuring a unique and appealing character. Three of the jeans were made from fabrics from Evlox’s Made in Spain Regen project and are made of a blend of more than 50% regenerative cotton blended with conventional cotton. The other three jeans from the six-piece collection were woven with post-consumer, recycled, colored weft yarns. All jeans are made following the high standards of Blackhorse Lane and feature the kinds of unique details that the denim ateliers are known for.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

SIGNATURE #3: Intriguing Seminars

Intriguing seminars have always been a cornerstone of Bluezone’s trade shows. During the Signature show, two podiums – one at Bluezone and one at Keyhouse – were scheduled continuously, hosting some of the most inspiring and exciting denim experts on the planet. With sustainability, innovations, and trends as the main subjects, all visitors were invited to join these seminars and to get inspired, gain knowledge, or join a conversation. New at Bluezone Signature was the screening of a denim movie, which we will briefly highlight below.

GEN Z Trends and Consuming Habits

Six years after his last lecture at Bluezone, Samuel James Trotman (a.k.a. Samutaro) made his return to the Bluezone stage. As a denim specialist and trend consultant, Samuel follows denim trends from the past to see how they have an influence on the denim trends of today and tomorrow. At Bluezone Signature, with his seminar called GEN Z Trends and Consuming Habits, Samuel showed us how young generations of denim consumers have turned denim into one of the most covetable fabrics of their generation. He provided a macro view on how young designers and content creators are reimagining denim for a new generation, giving a unique perspective on denim trends and designs.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

The Denim Deal

Bluezone teamed up with The Denim Deal to help them spread the news and importance of the agreement and its vision and mission. The Denim Deal, part of the Dutch Circular Textiles Policy Programme, has set ambitious targets for the recycling of post-consumer textile waste and the use of recycled materials. The goal of the Denim Deal is to close the denim loop by promoting the use of high-grade, post-consumer recycled cotton fibers in new jeans and other denim garments. The program started in October 2020 with 28 signatories and has since grown to 53 signatories, including leading denim manufacturers, many of which are regular Bluezone exhibitors. At Bluezone Signature, The Denim Deal presented the fantastic results that have been achieved, the lessons learnt, and their future goals.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

The Denim Hunter Movie

On both days of Bluezone Signature, The Denim Hunter Movie was screened, followed by a Q&A with the subject of the film, Viktor Fredbäck, who brought a part of his valuable vintage denim collection with him. The film follows Viktor, a denim collector from Sweden, on his wild journey to find a pair of jeans from the 1880s. After fifteen years of collecting, he has an almost complete timeline of jeans, from the first Levi’s jeans from the 1870s to flared pants from the 70s. His collection spans more than a century of denim history, but it is incomplete. He is missing a pair from the 1880s. On his wild journey through the deserts of California and up the snow-capped Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Viktor hunts for denim treasures in dangerous abandoned gold mines from the 19th century. It makes for riveting viewing.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

SIGNATURE #4: Innovation Hub, for tomorrow’s fashion

Bluezone is part of the overarching Munich Fabric Start, and it is always organized simultaneously. Being part of the fashion trade show Munich Fabric Start – which hosts around 1,100 suppliers – is very beneficial for Bluezone in many ways. It gives Bluezone more financial leeway, allowing them to invest in innovation and sustainability like no other show, and this is exactly what they do show after show.

Part of Munich Fabric Start, and always located next to Bluezone, is Keyhouse. While Munich Fabric Start and Bluezone are essentially about trading collections, Keyhouse is entirely about innovations. Located in an atmospheric industrial space, Keyhouse hosts some of the industry’s most brilliant innovations that are contributing to a better and more efficient industry. At every edition of the show, Keyhouse provides a stage for new and promising, and mostly brilliant, ideas, helping to introduce them to the global fashion industry.

Over the years, Bluezone became the innovation hub the denim world so desperately needed. In the current sustainable zeitgeist, the industry gathers at Bluezone to reflect on current developments and to set the goal for the future. Bluezone has always proven itself to be a supportive and reliable partner, bringing the denim industry to new heights.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

SIGNATURE #5: Unique Atmosphere 

Another signature of Bluezone, and one of the areas they really excel in, is the unique atmosphere they manage to create and facilitate. Even though competitors share the space, Bluezone feels more like a family reunion than a competition. This unique atmosphere makes the show more pleasant for visitors, but it also contributes to the great output of the shows. It positively affects how people do business, and it works as a firestarter when talking about new alliances and collaborations. Bluezone always initiates cool initiatives in collaboration with denim icons, including the following:

Ruedi’s exclusive Denim Exhibition

A familiar smiling face for Bluezone attendees, the legendary denim head Ruedi Karrer brought a small selection of his favorite faded denim pieces to Munich. Hosting an exclusive denim exhibition at the center of the Bluezone hall, Ruedi spoke at length with visitors about his unsurpassed love for denim, sharing interesting stories behind all the pieces he brought with him. Ruedi’s exhibition was an exquisite place to discover denim history!

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.

Denim Icons – Hall of Fame

Last but definitely not least, we need to mention the introduction of Bluezone’s Hall of Fame exhibition. Bluezone asked ten carefully selected industry insiders to exhibit one of their most iconic and beloved denim pieces and to include a story about the garment. At Bluezone Signature they proudly presented 10 iconic pieces of denim personalities like Adriano Goldschmied, Jason Denham, Ksenia Schnaider, and seven others.

Under the banner Signature, Bluezone invited the denim industry to shape a clear and unique vision in an ever- changing world. The show was executed at an incredibly high level, and it included countless memorable events. It was far more than just another denim show. During our two-day visit we had countless amazing conversations, and we enjoyed all that Bluezone Signature had to offer (including a rafter-shaking party on day one).

For us, Signature also highlighted Bluezone’s importance for the industry. Bluezone sits at a unique and irreplaceable position in the industry precisely because they give the industry a reason to come together! Bringing the industry together twice a year serves as the perfect moment to take stock and get inspired, and it always give the industry that extra push to make new and even more ambitious goals surrounding sustainability.

The next good reason to book a flight to Munich will be the next Bluezone, which is slated for September 4th and 5th. We can’t emphasize enough just how relevant and important Bluezone is for members of the industry. If you work with denim, and if you haven’t made it to Bluezone yet (or in a while), make sure to come to Bluezone in September 2024. Come and join the conversation and movement towards a better blue!

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.