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5 things you should know about ITS…

“It's about creating something that doesn't exist; something surprising, something unique,” says Carla Sozzani. “It's beautiful that young people have something to say... we should all have this.” The art lover, former fashion editor and founder of 10 Corso Como sits on the 2014 ITS Fashion Jury and, in the warm sunlight of Trieste, talks to i-D about the event we’re all here for. ITS (International Talent Support) is an annual fashion festival in the heart of Trieste, Italy. Currently in its 13th year, it stands as an international platform for fresh and emerging creative talent, offering thousands of pounds in prizes donated by Diesel, Swarovski, Samsung and YKK. However, here in Trieste, everyone is a winner.

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In a time overflowing with graduate fashion shows, ITS stands out as a carefully curated competition that allows all participants to benefit. Two primary worries of the graduating generations are the fact that there aren’t enough positions and not nearly enough paid jobs. But platforms do exist, and valued help is at hand. Organised by industry professionals who still believe in the magic of youth and talent, Trieste is powered by those eager to offer support, advice and tutelage to all involved. “It's true that young designers face hard times,” Carla Sozzani comments. “But if you think back to the 80s and Rei Kawakubo, Yohji, Gaultier, Alaia, Westwood… they all had zero money! Rei Kawakubo came all the way from Japan. I remember after the first fashion show we struggled back to the hotel together, taking all the clothes on a bus. We were not afraid to suffer. It’s still difficult to be independent and fund your own fabrics and production, but be independent and be yourself!” ITS aids exactly that; it invites, supports and celebrates the future of fashion. Clearly an important fixture in the fashion world, here are 5 things you should know about ITS…

1. Founded by Trieste-native Barbara Franchin, ITS scout talent from universities in over 80 countries. A world away from the fashion capitals, the international fashion industry descends upon the city's cobbled streets and stunning marina to feel the pulse of young talent. By placing fashion within a city void of any mega-fashion reputation, it invites a fresher look onto the fashion itself. “If I had to choose a favourite competition, I’d choose this one!” says Carla Sozzani.

2. Drawing from a variety of categories, the competition covers fashion, jewellery, accessories and, a new addition for this year, art. With 10-11 competitors in each category, each entry is carefully scrutinised by the jury before the students go on to present it. Both work and words are then considered.

3. Inviting the likes of Nicola Formichetti, Susie Bubble, Nick Knight, Marina Abramovic and Raf Simons to judge ensures that the quality of mentorship is the at the highest possible level. “They never judge just one thing on its own,” explains SHOWstudio’s Marie Schuller. “It isn’t just about fashion, it’s about everything having strong references and exploration from start to finish.”

4. This year revolved around ‘Lucid Dream’ and urged contributors to delve into the subconscious and push themselves both mentally and creatively. ITS is all about the self-challenge. “It's very important that you have a very singular voice,” shares Carla Sozzani. “Even if it is not beautiful, even if it is ugly, when you see someone with a personal voice, I appreciate it. With a personal point of view, there is always the possibility of evolution - it can always go forwards. But if somebody doesn't have anything to say, you can see that.”

5. This year’s winners were major dreamers, destined for big things. Taking the award for Fashion Collection Of The Year was Katherine Roberts-Wood, whose collection was one of the stand-out ones at the RCA show this year. Her beautiful neoprene laser-cut sleeves were a feat of design that also won her the Vogue Talents Award. Another stunning collection was the SHOWstudio award winner, Yasuto Kimura, who created a haunting collection of Japanese salary men confounded in futuristic gas masks and immaculately tailored drop-waist trousers. From concept to realization, Kimura’s vision was a stand-out one that wowed the jury in its strength. Ivana Damjanovic pushed boundaries with the Samsung challenge, while accessories were transformed into super-svelte designs that transgressed simple skin with winners of the Swarovski Jewellery award Lior Shulak and Noriko Nakazato. Zoe Walters picked up the Diesel Award for her inimitable jacket cuts and Anika Hierlekar’s colouring exploded onto the runway in beautiful hues of reds, blues and greens.