Sartoria Diletto Founder Andrea Diletto took home ‘Best Collection’ and a prize of €10,000 at the Global Denim Awards (GDA) in Amsterdam Thursday for his collaboration with Italian mill Candiani Denim. The competition paired eight designers with eight progressive denim mills to showcase their combined craftsmanship, designs and innovations in denim. Designers were required to create head-to-toe collections made of at least 50 percent denim.

Diletto, a German-born tailor well-versed in traditional Italian suiting, was lauded for applying his Milanese tailoring techniques to a collection of contemporary gender-bending suiting for men and women that featured five bespoke fabrics made on old looms by Candiani. Diletto’s three looks for women were decidedly masculine, playing with traditional vests, jackets and trousers, meanwhile he took a more fashion-forward approach to his two men’s ensembles, including cropped trousers and a belted and caped suit jacket. Diletto rounded out the collection with a range of custom-made hats made by a Milan-based milliner.

The partnership was a dream match for the Italian denim mill. Candiani used laser treatments to recreated details and fabrics from Diletto’s formal world. Fabrics with heavy brushing, and handwoven ties added to the collection’s richness. Other fabrics used 100 percent recycled wool proving sustainability can be fashionable.

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Satoria Diletto x Candiani

The competition was Diletto’s first foray in denim and womenswear——two areas he said he plans to continue to pursue after the competition. “The competition is a door opener,” said Candiani Denim Marketing Manager Simon Giuliani. “It allows designers to play in a different language. What comes out of here should be an impulse for the industry,” he added.

Besides Diletto being awarded with €10.000, the winning collection will be exhibited during Kingpins shows in Amsterdam, New York and Hong Kong, as well as during the Amsterdam Denim Days April 11-17 2016.

Denim mill Berto Industria Tessile of Italy won the honorary ‘Best Fabric’ award, as a recognition for its innovative denim fabrics. The mill collaborated with Italian-based Studiopretzel on a line of classic pieces which Berto Marketing Manager Arianna Morimando said allowed the “fabric to speak on their own.” The collection, which included denim made with silk, cashmere and selvedge, spanned shirting to bags and sneakers.

Sustainability was not a requirement in the competition, but it was a common theme throughout collections. ITV Denim teamed with first-time denim designer Alexandra Frida to create a kaleidoscope collection of magenta, fuchsia and teal denim dresses, bodysuits, cropped tops and jackets featuring her signature digital feather prints. The designer worked in beading, embroidery and cutouts to add a feminine flair to the rough fabrics. “Denim was very new to me,” Frida said. “I was amazed by the possibilities——especially with all of the waste yarns.”

Frida said she asked the mill to send her “boxes and boxes” of the yarn. The result was a showpiece jacket——and Frida’s favorite in the collection——a fringe-like bomber jacket dyed pink. “I’m going to continue to use denim. It’s opened my world,” she said of the competition.

China-based Prosperity Textile and Maison the Faux from the Netherlands set out to create a collection that paired denim, a fabric for the masses, with designs that celebrated individuality. Along with skin color fabric, embroideries and shiny embellishments, the design house used scraps to create a jacket trimmed with cascading waves made of twisted yarns–materials that were otherwise bound for the garbage.

Similarly, Istanbul-based designer Gulcin Cengel and Calik Denim sought to make sustainability appealing to the commercial market, in terms of speed and design. Cengel was inspired by the Turkish art of marbling, or the practice of of using paint drops to create patterns. Calik achieved the same effect through quicker, water-saving laser techniques. Cengel also deconstructed fabrics to create new textures and visual interest.

Meanwhile designer John-Randy Anthony worked with Tejidos Royo to produce an 18-piece range with each garment made of 100 percent hybrid fabric containing at least one sustainable fiber. Each piece was constructed with a different fabric. On the fashion side, the line offered a clean and contemporary take on men’s workwear featuring water-repellent fabrics (with Amsterdam’s cyclists in mind), and a number of hidden nods to the denim’s Valencia roots, including yellow, red and blue stitching.

GDA is a first-of-its-kind runway show and awards ceremony——an event Andrew Olah, founder of Kingpins Show, said is long overdue in the denim industry. The award show coincided with Kingpins Amsterdam and Denim on Stage, an education and industry event held at Denim City in Amsterdam. At Denim on Stage on Friday, Olah compared the $60 billion global denim industry to the $90 billion film business and $16 billion music industry. He noted that every industry has its moment to spotlight and celebrate its talent. Denim, he said, has had no annual event to call its own until now.

In its second year, over 750 international denim professionals were present at the GDA runway show at the Zuiveringshal of the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. The collections were judged by an international jury of denim industry experts comprised of G-Star RAW Head Designer Pierre Morisset, “Denim Dudes” author Amy Leverton, denim veteran Adriano Goldschmied and Menno van Meurs, the co-founder of Red Wing Shoes Amsterdam and Tenue de Nîmes.

GDA is a collaborative concept developed by HTNK Fashion Recruitment and Consultancy, House of Denim and Kingpins Show. The awards are made possible by e3. Friedhelm Hanke of Bayer CropScience said, “We love the Global Denim Awards, because at the end of the day Bayer CropScience and e3 Cotton are all about innovation and creativity. In that sense, this event matches our philosophy.”