openUtopia: the ideal political, moral and religious order that is impossible to realize in the real world. Whoever wrote this definition probably never saw Trieste, and never met Barbara Franchin, who made Utopia a real place, one that is possible actually, and open to all of those who have a dream to realize. We’re talking about ITS, International Talent Support: this is one of the most important international events aimed at discovering new talents in the world of fashion. ITS attracts an amazing amount of young people, who all share the enthusiasm in wanting to show (off) their creativity to the wide world, getting the opportunity to make into a job in exchange. This was the case, for instance, of Demna Gvasalia, who won the third edition and who is currently Balenciaga’s creative director, as well as the mind behind one of the hottest brands in fashion right now: Vêtement.

Every year, ITS selects 20 finalists among thousands of portfolios it gets, all these portfolios belonging to fashion and accessory designers. This is definitely an excellent occasion to get attention, but also to actually become a part of the creative industry, thanks to companies, such as Swatch, Only The Brave and Swarowski, who are sponsors for the competition, and who give a chance of a paid internship with them to the winners of their related category. They also hand out a prize in money, which can often be a stepping stone for individuals to start their own personal projects.

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So what makes ITS different from other competitions? According to Carlo Giordanetti — Creative Director of Swatch International, sponsor of the Artwork section for 3 years — one of the main differences is the founder, Barbara Franchin, who always promotes creativity. Another characteristic that makes it unique is the extreme care that the organisers put in the selection of designers, and the extreme freedom of creativity that these designers are given. They are challenged to create something that represents an idea, rather than a product, possibly using materials related to the partner company. Sometimes the results are very interesting: this was the case of winner Jana Zornik, who realised a sort of reverse kaleidoscope, incorporating a mirror into it, that shows the viewer an image of his or her own eye, encouraging a surprising, total reflection with him or herself. The structure looks like a stalactite, and is actually made of several plexiglas parts, fragments of Swatch cases, creatively re-elaborated and upcycled. What is prized here is creativity, and ideas that makes the difference, actually, like this one was. These ideas are like pure gold, in a reality that is more and more uniformed, in which fashion culture and the courage to be different are missing.

Fashion culture and the courage to be different are central elements here, instead: the law of the Free Country of Utopia, as this space, where everything is possible, calls itself. They consider freedom of thought a treasure that shall be guarded in an attic packed with inspiration: this is the space of ITS Creative Archive, where the works of designers who came to Triest in the last 15 years are housed. These artworks have left a small trace of their craziness, a trace that will help all those coming in the future, who still believe that utopia is not just a dream.

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