A dozen editions later and Kingpins Amsterdam has become a marquee networking event for individuals in the denim sector. The show’s loose, Happy Hour vibe and open forums that welcome opinions, coupled with Amsterdam’s communal atmosphere, make it a must-attend for anyone who wants to see and be seen in the denim community.
It’s something that Kingpins founder Andrew Olah has picked up on. “Sometimes I think at Kingpins, one of the main reasons people go there is to network,” he said during Kingpins24. “[People] reach out and keep in touch with a lot of people in a very public space.”
Kingpins’ new project aims to formalize this approach to job hunting. The trade show is teaming up with long-time collaborator Mariette Hoitink, owner of the Amsterdam-based HTNK recruitment and consultancy firm and co-founder of the non-profit House of Denim, to launch Denim Jobs, a new online platform dedicated to connecting the denim industry with the best talent.
Denim Jobs will be a unique destination on the Kingpins website catering to the full supply chain, Hoitink said. It will be a space for all denim and denim-related companies such as mills, brands, retailers and NGOs to advertise their vacancies for full-time, freelance and internship positions. And it will attract talent with creative, commercial, digital and technical backgrounds.
Additionally, the site will feature interviews for “denim rookies and players” about their career and their perspective about the future of their work.
From a business point of view, Olah said this partnership with HTNK will be another way to foster the sense of community in the denim industry, which he added was created in Amsterdam by House of Denim and Kingpins helped to grow.
Though the launch of Denim Jobs debuts at a time when there are hiring freezes and skyrocketing unemployment statistics, Hoitink said the denim sector will have to be ready to put the steps in place to get back on its feet.
“The situation will not go away by pretending it’s not there,” she said. “Our industry is going through its biggest transformation.”
Olah anticipates retailers in the U.S to begin opening at the end of June, and factories restarting in the next three to five weeks. The industry, he added, will temporarily need quicker deliveries and smaller runs in order to get back to business. “As we get more steam and health in the world, we’ll go back to the old system,” he said.
Among the other transformations that the pandemic will bring is a greater focus on new digital roles and a new playbook for marketing.
“For the denim industry, the marketing side of things will become a more important element of their survival,” Hoitnik said. It will require brands to share their real story with the right people in a relevant way, she added.
And for those that have good news, it will be more important than ever to share it. The way companies treat their employees and supply chain partners during the pandemic will become a key issue with consumers going forward.
For instance, the companies that have withheld payments to factories will be reported, Olah said. “It’s going to be a problem for companies that decided to go down that road,” he added.
And it’s for this reason why Olah and Hoitnik believe the future denim job market will rely on truthful company branding, which HTNK can assist with, and strong relationships.
“The best supply chains are the supply chains where there’s trust, and trust is built through personal relationships and behavior,” Olah said.
“Everyone is thinking about their job and the future,” he added. “And if we can assist that and bring people together though this, it will be successful and appreciated.”