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Kingpins Amsterdam through the eyes of three denim buyers

By Caitlyn Terra


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Kingpins, April 2024 edition. Credits: FashionUnited / Caitlyn Terra

International denim sourcing fair Kingpins is a regular fixture for many denim professionals. So too for buyers from Butcher of Blue, Kuyichi and Jeans Centre. What are their reasons for visiting the Amsterdam edition, what sort of things do they hope to find at Kingpins and what have they already spotted at the fair?

For all three buyers we spoke to, maintaining contacts and building relationships is high on the list of reasons to go to Kingpins. One such buyer is Maarten Rijnders, co-founder of denim brand Butcher of Blue. ‘We try to be here every year and every edition,’ he explains. ‘We have a wonderful distribution network and a very healthy supply chain. What is important for us is that we work very closely with our suppliers. We want to build a relationship and that also takes time.’ Rijnders explains that Butcher of Blue produces relatively small quantities and that this also has to be clear to suppliers before working together. ‘This makes Kingpins very relevant for us. We can explain what our brand stands for and we can take the time to build the relationship.’

Rijnders says he is not actively looking for new suppliers, but that it is good to show his face, together with his team, during the denim fair. ‘Also so that the suppliers we don't work with see that we are here and what we are doing. Perhaps we can do something for each other in the future.’ Rijnders also notes that it would be nice for his brand if there were also some smaller high-end denim weavers present at Kingpins.

Another adjustment that might be helpful is to create more spaces to have appointments. There are a few small meeting spots created on the trade show floor, but they don't seem to be well known or much used yet. ‘When you working at one of the stands, you are quite enclosed. It's nice if you can find some seclusion, for example with suppliers you don't have easy access to, like companies in China or even Italy. Then when these suppliers are here in Amsterdam, it would be nice if you can retreat within the confines of the fair to have a chat without new people walking into the booth all the time.’

The Butcher of Blue founder also sees Kingpins as a place to keep his finger on the pulse within the denim market. ‘We are seeing confirmation here now that the market is in transition when it comes to fit and fabrics. For a very long time, the market had a focus on stretch and slim fits and that didn't suit us as a brand. Now you see that the market is actually moving towards other fits and firmer fabrics. It's not that we have foresight, we just make what we like ourselves and stick to those core values.’

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The Gallery, a new concept from Kingpins. Credits: FashionUnited / Caitlyn Terra

Fair visit: 3 denim buyers about Kingpins ‘I really like the atmosphere at Kingpins. A bit of seeing what people are wearing, speaking to former colleagues again,’ he explains. While eyes are always kept open for new innovations, Kuyichi is always making choices for fabrics well in advance. It also works long hours with previously selected fabrics. As for innovations, Baars expects to find them at Bossa as well, Kuyichi's biggest partner. ‘Of course we like to see what other denim weavers have. For instance, we saw the word ‘regenerative’ come up after we incorporated it into our process. So that's always a nice confirmation. ‘

Kuyichi wants to be at the forefront when it comes to sustainability. Now that's not always easy, including when working with retailers. ‘Some look at certificates, while 'regenerative' doesn't have a certificate yet. Sometimes they don't want the product then. Even though regenerative production does make the ecosystem more balanced. It's still tricky when a term is not that well known yet. So it is also up to us to explain it to customers.’

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Kingpins, April 2024 edition. Credits: Kingpins

Inspiration, relationships and affirmation: Kingpins with three denim buyers At the end of his Kingpins visit, Lucas Verhoef of both Jeans Centre and Garcia is very excited about a new innovation he has spotted. It's about Lycra's Fitsense technology where stretch denim can be strengthened through a special process. ‘I thought this was really cool. That could come in very handy for our ladies' denim fittings.’

Verhoef likes to spend his day at Kingpins together with his Garcia colleagues. His Garcia colleagues focus on the fabrics and Verhoef keeps a keen eye on the end customer. ‘I am actually in between the wholesale and retail organisation. I buy the end products from Jeans Centre, but we also purchase a lot from our sister brand Garcia.’

Kingpins also offers inspiration through the vistors' denim looks sported by its visitors. ‘The cowboy and Americana trend had been around for some time, so it doesn't feel very new now,’ he says. But judging by the visitors, this trend is far from dying down. In terms of inspiration, Verhoef would like to see a bit more. ‘Of course, there is the seminar, but it would also be nice, for example, if there were more physical items with fabrics from denim producers that are present here at the fair. Not only executed in jeans, but also in other products. So that you can really see what you can do with a piece of fabric as a brand.’ The buyer points out that the team has just seen a very cool denim fabric, but did not quite figure out how they could use it yet. ‘Perhaps Kingpins can implement various show moments in the event. Then the inspiration bit is taken just a bit further.’

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