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Newfangled Denim Showroom in Amsterdam Reinvents the Role of the Agent

For The Denim Window, a new showroom-meets-inspirational space in Amsterdam for players across the global denim supply chain, better denim design means choosing collaboration over competition.

Founded by Italian denim maven Silvia Rancani, whose previous experiences in denim product development for brands like Diesel and Tommy Hilfiger have connected her with a roster of mills, garment makers and brands, the showroom operates as an incubator for creativity and collaboration.

The goal, Rancani explained, is to allow one company from a particular product category and geographic region to exhibit in the showroom, offering the company space to stand on its own and not compete with similar products.

Unlike traditional brand showrooms where multiple companies with the same specialty might live under one roof, at The Denim Window there’s just one mill, one garment maker, one chemical company and one fiber producer. Selected companies can exhibit highlights from their collections for one year in a cozy environment where designers, product developers, fashion students and emerging talent are invited to review products and learn more about the companies. Exhibitors are asked to rotate products four times a year for newness.

The Denim Window launched in October during Kingpins Amsterdam.

In that short window of time, Rancani said denim mill Berto, fiber producer Invista, chemical company Garmon, garment marker Dinghui, outerwear specialist Greenwear and design software firm MYR have signed on and will begin to exhibit at the showroom in the coming months.

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The Denim Window
The Denim Window Courtesy

With Amsterdam claiming the role has Europe’s hub for the denim industry—thanks in part to the city’s efforts to clean-up fashion, along with the popularity of Kingpins Amsterdam—it’s never been more crucial for companies to have a year-round presence in the city.

Rancani said she’s not trying to compete with trade shows. Rather, she describes The Denim Window as complementary to the buzz and excitement spurred at Kingpins.

While the biannual trade show serves the industry as a place to network, connect and discover new concepts, Rancani notes the event is a fleeting moment. As a former product developer, she knows most developers will need to see collections again.

“There’s always something missing, or something that needs to be added at the last minute,” she explained. “It’s good to have your suppliers nearby to review.”

And in the process, Rancani said she hopes to provide a platform for companies that would otherwise fly under the radar of most designers. She said the collective space allows companies that might be unable to open their own showroom, or would like to test a market, to have a place to call their own.

“There are so many great garment makers in China and India, for example, but they don’t have sales agents in Europe,” she said. “They don’t attend exhibitions and no one knows their product.”

Although her role at The Denim Window involves sharing information about vendors with prospective clients, Rancani doesn’t view herself as a salesperson. Instead, she considered herself an advocate for creativity.

In the future, Rancani said she would like to see vendors come together to create cohesive mood boards for the season. After all, it’s not enough anymore for companies to work in isolation. Rancani said designers and brands seek out “boutique experiences” to inform and inspire their collections.

Located in a green park and surrounded by other creative businesses, Rancani said she didn’t want The Denim Window to fall into the stereotypical traits of a denim showroom. There is no blue up-lighting or cliché vintage-looking knick-knacks.

Instead, the space is designed to appeal to all types of designers—from outerwear, women’s wear and men’s wear to denim pure players—with wooden beams, a whimsical seat swing, lush greenery and bold pops of yellow and black.

“The old idea of an agent going around with fabrics seems outdated,” she said. “This is a different way to work.”