What's more important than facts when you want to prove a point? Because you can tell any kind of story selling it as true, but if you're not backed by solid proof you're going nowhere. And that's not bold at all. When we claim that we discover the most interesting young fashion design talents on the planet we're backed by hundreds of incredible results obtained by the over 550 finalists we've selected in 16 years of International Talent Support. They are, quite simply, our best ambassadors.
LEFT: Matthieu Blazy with Raf Simons - RIGHT: Aitor Throup
Take Demna Gvasalia for example, founder of Vetements and Creative Director at Balenciaga. He was only in his 2nd year at the Royal Academy of Arts in Antwerp when his brother - not him - courageously decided to apply his work for ITS#THREE in 2004. Bold move, and it proved right. Demna was selected as a finalist and won Collection of the Year. Another name you certainly know is Peter Pilotto, who launched his eponymous brand following his ITS#THREE win of the Maria Luisa Poumaillou Award. The following year at ITS#FOUR Christopher de Vos (both Peter and Christopher, like Demna, were former Antwerp students) was selected as a finalist and after a period at Vivienne Westwood joined Peter to re-vamp his brand into one of the most interesting new voices in fashion, renowned for their incredible prints and unique style.
There's so many past finalists working behind the curtains in key positions at the most important brands you can think of. The list is truly long and you can go here for a full overview but let's try a quick list of some of the most interesting ones. Courtney McWilliams (ITS#NINE 2010) is Design Director at Givenchy, Hongbo Li (ITS#THREE 2004) is at Dior Haute Couture Senior Designer (he was also extensively featured in the celebrated documentary "Dior and I"), Kyoko Iwase (ITS#ONE 2002) is at Alexander McQueen as a Senior Jewelry designer. Then there's Matthieu Blazy (ITS#FIVE 2006) who is back working with Raf Simons (he already had an important work experience with Raf on his eponymous line) at Calvin Klein as a Design Director, Ryo Yamada (ITS#FOUR 2005) who is Design Concept Director Men's at Tommy Hilfiger Denim and Aitor Throup (ITS#FIVE 2006) who is Executive Creative Director for G-Star with impressive collaborations under his belt like the artistic directions for Damon Albarn, Kasabian and Flying Lotus. Or Angela Ooi (ITS#SIX 2007) who is the Design Director for Calvin Klein Performance, Nicolas di Felice (ITS#SIX 2007) who, after designing for Dior Couture went on to become Senior Womenswear Designer for Louis Vuitton.
LEFT: Justin Smith - RIGHT: Elina Maattanen
Milliner Justin Smith (ITS#SIX 2007) today has among his personal clients Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Amal Clooney, at the same time working for cinema on blockbusters like Star Wars - The Last Jedi or Maleficent. David Steinhorst (ITS#SEVEN 2008) was Head of Womenswear at Kenzo and today is Senior Womenswear Designer at Maison Schiaparelli, Michael Kampe (ITS#NINE 2010) is Head of Design at Hugo Boss, while Si Young Kim (ITS#NINE 2010) designs women's handbags and accessories for Burberry. Ian Waller and Mirija Pitkaart (both ITS 2014 finalists) found themselves working together after ITS at Louis Vuitton, designing their leathergoods range. Elina Maattanen was immediately picked by Margiela at ITS 2015, Leo Carlton (ITS 2015) designs for legendary milliner Stephen Jones and Ilaria Fiore (ITS 2016) is Womenswear Designer for Fendi. Need we say more?
LEFT: Yuima Nakazato - CENTER: Flora Miranda - RIGHT: Xiao Li with Nicola Formichetti & Renzo Rosso
This is just a taste of it, so just think about how many ITS finalists are involved in the most important fashion weeks. Working behind the scenes and fuelling the fashion system with their creativity, and not just for other brands, with their own brands as well. Xiao Li (ITS 2013), following her acclaimed capsule collection produced by Diesel and distributed by 10 Corso Como stores worldwide is presenting her AW19 at London Fashion Week on 16 February, just as Peter Pilotto (fashion show on 18 February), Paula Knorr (ITS 2015) who will present at the BFC Showspace on 19 February and is also having an event at the Newgen pop-up showroom on 20 February. Or Longshaw Ward (two former finalists of ITS, David Longshaw from ITS#SIX and Kirsty Ward from ITS#NINE who married and joined... ITS Family stories are awesome!) holding their fashion show on the On|Off Catwalk on 20 February and footwear designer and 2006 ITS Winner of Accessories Collection of the Year Heather Blake, who will be presenting her own line Eva Blake at the LFW Design Showrooms on 16 - 20 February, or Richard Quinn (ITS 2015) presenting his AW19 at the Design Showrooms as well.
It's still a bit early for us to know who will be presenting their collections in Paris in the beginning of March, but let's not forget who was there for Haute Couture in January instead. Yuima Nakazato (ITS#SEVEN 2008), who is challenging the technological boundaries of fabrics and garment production with his work, has presented for the second year in a row his Haute Couture collection receiving outstanding critics from the international press just as Flora Miranda (ITS 2016), who received the prestigious invitation this year and presented her "Pneuma" haute couture collection with a special event that saw dancers wearing her clothes in a performance held in a Parisian palace.
Have we given you sufficient facts for you to be convinced it's time to be bold with your creativity and apply?