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May 8, 2014
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Kingpins: the American denim show takes its first steps in Amsterdam

May 8, 2014

The new European denim trade show got underway on May 7. Forty or so companies were present for its inaugural edition - some there because of their familiarity with Kingpins’ editions in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong and others in order to broaden their network.

A great deal of industry professionals attended the show’s first edition housed in the impressive Westergasfabriek, a former gasworks converted into a cultural venue 15 minutes from the center of Amsterdam by public transportation. Rock and jazz played over the speakers, the event giving off an elegant, yet unbuttoned vibe from the get-go.

The location matches the show perfectly (photo by Matthew Guinebault)

A corridor tracing the wall of the spherical building serves as exhibition space for companies - set apart from the hubbub, products are thrown into relief by cool lights. In the middle, the mood changes: under speakers and warmer lights, visitors quickly commandeer an open bar. There’s sofa space set aside for meetings, meals delivered by scooter - the Netherlands has proven very obliging.

"We will have to decide between shows"

Kingpins appears to have successfully brought together a great deal of big industry players. Besides its partners Lycra and E3, you can find Tavex, Candiani Denim, Atlantic Mills, Advanced Denim, the French company Velcorex among others. Some of the companies could previously be seen at Denim by Première Vision in Paris, or in the Blue Zone of Munich Fabric Start.

But other companies are also starting out alongside the show in the European market. Having attended the American editions of Kingpins 6 times, the Shanghainese company Toyoshima has made the most of its trip to Europe. "We operate primarily on the Japanese and U.S. markets, but they’re now more restrictive than in the past. And Europe is known as a hotbed of consumers who are fans of higher-end products," explains company manager Takuya Tojo, who thinks that Kingpins has successfully adjusted to the location. "The setting is different, but the atmosphere is quite similar. And I love Amsterdam. How couldn’t you!"

Having already attended Denim By PV, Bluezone and the American editions of Kingpins, Tavex is unsurprisingly also taking part in the event. "Denim By primarily touches the southern markets, like Spain or Italy. We came here to reach consumers in the north," says Maria Arias Pimentel, brand and communication manager at the company. "But maybe later we will have to decide between shows."

As to whether the emergence of one single trade show leader in Europe would make things easier, her answer is immediate: “Definitely. Before, it was all Denim By PV. But now there are new shows. We’ll have to wait and see which one turns out to be the best."

"I've never been to other shows"

Should we expect a bloody fight for the champion title? For Andrew Olah, founder of Kingpins and a fan of metaphors, the answer is no. "When there’s a good French restaurant and a good Italian restaurant across the street, is that a problem? It just gives consumers more options," he told FashionMag. "I started Kingpins in 2004, before Denim By was launched in 2007. We were the first show dedicated to the supply of denim. In all honestly, I've never visited the sector’s other shows.”

While Kingpins will close its doors on the evening of May 8, following a “thrilling” debut according to its founder, Amsterdam Denim Days will continue on. The event built around the new trade show will see Modefabriek held on May 9 to 10 along with Blueprint, its exhibition space open to the public.

It’s an event where fans of jeans will be will be anticipated by Diesel, Pepe Jeans London, Denham, Scotch & Soda and others. That’s not to forget the deals and special events that, from May 7 to 10, will take place in Amsterdam’s principal denim shops.

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