What does winning a (student) competition do for your study career? And how does it change you as a student? We spoke to International Fashion & Branding students Travis Rice and Eleonora Kalabokas who last summer won the prestigious ISKO Denim Award.
Interview by Emma Wendt 2nd year Fashion Branding Student.
After having been advised by their Branding teacher AMFI students Travis Rice and Eleonora Kalabokas took the initiative to participate in the ISKO denim competition last summer. This international competition encourages young individuals to explore innovative approaches within creating and marketing denim on a global level.
Their experience was highly inspirational. It gave them both the realization that going all in and taking a risk comes with a reward in the end. A risk they took indeed! Their aim with their concept called “Roughhousing” was to shake up and disrupt conventionality within the denim industry. They wanted to make professionals uncomfortable. Targeting generation Z, their brand lies within a culture where ‘ugly reigns supreme’.
Being a part of this new generation of branders, I was intrigued into finding out what insight they can give into the future of the knowingly current plateaued denim industry. Also, what has this experience and win meant for their professional life within the business.
Can you describe your winning project?
“We were briefed to create a fictional brand and marketing campaign that would bring ISKO’s new denim fabric further. This new fabric enables one to move without restrictions once inside their denim and is therefore suitable for sports. According to ISKO, athleisure, a fashion trend in which sportswear is worn in other settings such as for casual hangouts, is an opportunity for denim to enter the market of performance wears. We thought the opposite. Denim remains denim. It once represented the rebellious counter culture, the feeling of freedom and ability to do whatever you feel like and that was exactly what we wanted to communicate.”
Has your perspective of the denim industry changed after doing the project?
“It is a very specialized industry. The construction and technology around denim is very complicated and extremely diverse in terms of branding. At the same time, the denim industry is stuck in conventional ways of producing and selling and therefore, is facing many challenges ahead.”
What do you expect for the future of the denim sector?
“What we expect for the future and what we wish for are two different things. Fashion and denim are evolving slowly. Looking forward, we want fashion to become forward focused. No longer worried about bringing back trends or pleasing the masses. People go for a new phone, because it’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. Why can’t fashion adapt that same mentality? Don’t give people what their heart desires, give them what they never even knew was possible.”
Are there any noticeable differences in your professional life after this win?
“Our presentation was well received and for this reason, we were asked to speak at Denim Premier Vision on the topic of targeting Generation Z. Taking part in and winning this competition meant that we as young creatives that are soon to be entering the work force are taken seriously. That our voice wants to be heard. However, our voice is not our opinion. What I would advise other students is always back-up your statements, research and findings. Talk to people, hear their testimonies, search the world high and low, READ, READ a lot and from various sources. Only then can you create a clear 360 degree perspective and really put the pieces together in a new and unexpected way.”
What did you learn on a personal level? Would you encourage other students to enter competitions?
“Definitely. We learned to really stick to your guts. If you are trying to do something new, innovative, ballsy, you get a lot of pushbacks (i.e. “Are you sure?” “This won’t work.” “Perhaps this is too provocative.” etc.). Fuck that! Words become thought, and thought becomes deeds. What we presented planted a seed in their minds, and hopefully, if we are as convincing as we think we are, that seed will sprout into unforeseen and brilliant action. Thus, this same approach we carry with us at AMFI.
All we can bring to AMFI and the fashion industry is ourselves, and not the watered down version. We put ourselves and all we’ve learned, experienced, and witnessed 110% into our work. No doubts – but certainly the research to back-up why we’re doing what we’re doing and why the world is ready for it (or needs it).”
How will this competition benefit your future in the denim industry?
“The competition and the denim minor have given us the foundation to understand the denim world from each and every angle. It is complex and many stakeholders are involved. Each stakeholder holds information, skills, and years of expertise to help perfect and evolve denim. Having this overview will allow us to think outside of traditional norms and incorporate change from each point.”
ISKO Denim Competition Video:
Link to Travis Rice’s Portfolio:
Link to Eleonora Kalabokas’ Portfolio: