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New home base fuels ongoing evolution of ITS Contest format

By Caitlyn Terra


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News |Interview

Barbara Franchin (right) on stage during the award ceremony of the ITS Contest 2023/2024. Credits: Caitlyn Terra / FashionUnited

The 2023/24 edition of the ITS Contest (International Talent Support) took place in March 2024 in a revamped format. Finalists not only stood the chance to win an array of prizes but were also welcomed for a week-long stint in Trieste, the new home of ITS. Since 2023, International Talent Support has found its physical base in the city, significantly broadening the organisation's horizons, as founder Barbara Franchin revealed in an interview with FashionUnited.

True to its name, International Talent Support is dedicated to nurturing design talent. Founded in 2002 by Barbara Franchin, the competition has since welcomed diverse international talents such as Demna, Matthieu Blazy, and Nicola di Felice.

Support for design talent comes in the form of cash prizes and international media exposure, but in recent years, it has taken on new dimensions.

Last year saw the opening of the ITS Arcademy museum [though often assumed to be a typo, ‘ITS Academy,’ this is not the case, ed.], housing portfolios of past participants, winners or not, thus immortalising their collections in its archives. This means museum visitors can acquaint themselves with their work.

International Talent Support explores further means of nurturing talent

Another form of support has been added: a residency. Finalists from the 2023 edition, whose award ceremony took place on March 22 2024, are invited for a residency the week preceding the ceremony.

During these days, they engage with professionals, receive mentorship, and collaborate on special projects. It's a unique experience, echoed in the speeches of several winners onstage.

According to Franchin, the desire to host candidates in Trieste for an extended period has been nurtured since 2016. “We have ideas on how to better support the finalists. Our aim is to equip them with more tools, more support, more information to prepare them for the future. This is crucial,” she explained.

She continued: “Normally, finalists are here for a very short time. It's quick, it's loud. Now that we have a home, we can establish a lasting relationship. It's not just a weekend a year; it's a home where you can invite people, where they can stay.”

“With the new home, we can now do things we previously deemed impossible,” she said. While a larger home base would further expand opportunities, Franchin suggests this will only be possible in five to six years.

Franchin envisions further development for the ITS Contest. She sees an extended residency where finalists can gain even more experience and connections. For the next edition, she anticipates changes to the competition.

“We don't want to remain stagnant; that's not our goal. We want to test different formats, and likely, next year, the residency will be longer, and there may be no awards given, or fewer.” Franchin believes the notion of designating a ‘best’ is outdated.

“It's unfair to compare because they're all so different. Everyone is the best, and no one is the best. However, we'll always provide support to participants.” She explains that finalists already receive 6000 euros upon selection for the competition.

Franchin also foresees the organisation opening up the contests to other disciplines. Currently, there are awards for categories such as best fashion film and digital fashion. “It's broader than fashion; what the finalists do is art. So, we see the opportunity to widen the competition,” she told FashionUnited.

She also sees potential in expanding the ITS platform beyond just the competition, into concepts for TV and a media platform that further spotlights talents. There's plenty of room for experimentation and discovery to determine what fits and what's necessary to support young talent.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.NL. Translation and edit from Dutch into English by Veerle Versteeg.

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