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A New Breed

Dazed Digital visited ITS young talent awards in Trieste to speak with YKK Award winner Benjamin John Hall

New Breed is a collaborative venture between Dazed and YKK aimed at showcasing a portfolio of fashion’s most fierce. To that end, Dazed headed to the eleventh ITS awards, held in the milieu of Trieste’s historic port, to speak with the young designers tearing up the rulebook and paving a new ways for design.

Over three days Marina Abramović lead an array of expert panelists - including Dazed’s own Robbie Spencer – in judging new talent in the three fields of fashion, accessories and jewellery design. YKK had also stumped up a handsome £10,000 cash prize for accessory design that engaged with zips. A representative from the brand told us that they were looking for work that defied convention and placed idealism before reality.

It is little surprise that the prize was therefore awarded to shoe-designer-cum-alchemist Benjamin John Hall. The Londoner’s collection, 'Birth, Life, Death and Ressurection' explores its namesake’s enigmatic themes while referencing cinematography. Each shoe stands as an enduring relic of the process in which it was conceived: filled and then bled of ink, inflated, illuminated and – in what seems to be Hall’s favourite trick – set on fire. We caught up with the award-winner after the show.

For YKK, a fastening manufacturing company who’ve enjoyed global ubiquity since 1934, supporting new talent comes natural thanks to their unparalleled vision, attention to detail and commitment to innovation. For seven years they have supported Italy’s talent unearthing initiative, ITS (International Talent Support) which has been instrumental in launching the careers of Shaun Samson, Mark Fast and the inimitable, Aitor Throup.

Dazed Digital: How does it feel to have won and where do you hope to go from here?
Benjamin John Hall: It feels great. It feels fantastic. I am very, very pleased. I think I will use the money I have won to develop the idea and try to expand on it. Make it more commercial.

DD: How did you engage with the YKK product line in your designs?
Benjamin John Hall: Well firstly, I like zips. I normally use them in my designs but what made this project interesting was using the fire retardant zip - if you set any normal nylon zip on fire, it will melt in seconds. The YKK zip is made with specialised fibres so it doesn’t burn at all. It allowed me to create a shoe that I could set alight to distort and mould the leather.

DD: So it was the innovations in technology that particularly appealed to you?
Benjamin John Hall: Yes. YKK are always evolving their technologies. Like I said, I use them a lot in my designs but I didn’t really know anything about zips until this project. Speaking to Marco from the brand, it was fascinating to learn just how much technology, and the evolution of technology, goes in to their work. We were actually allowed to go and have a look at every type of zip they had ever made.

DD: What was the most interesting product you saw?
Benjamin John Hall: They have an amazing zip, which is like a space suit zip. It’s water and airtight. It’s pretty special.

DD: For when you design your space suit?
Benjamin John Hall: Maybe space shoes.

DD: …because we’re all going to be going on holiday to space next year?
Benjamin John Hall: Exactly. Actually wait, maybe I should give Richard Brandson a call?

More info on the YKK New Breed project HERE