Thom Barends has been on our radar for a while now.  Earlier this year, he was a finalist in the 2013 H&M Design awards, impressing us with his chic but confrontational ensembles of long skirts worn with tailored hoodies and Puffa jackets. Now Barends, from the Netherlands has upped his game by winning gold at the International Fur trade Federation’s tenth annual REMIX competition (as well as scooping the Origin Assured Award).

Inspired by Jean-Paul goude’s maverick photo collages, today’s roller coaster economics, 1980s decadence and the ramshackle clothing of street beggars, Barends’ collection for REMIX was super-luxe Blade Runner meets fur-trimmed Rhythm Nation and proved the Amsterdam-born designer as a bonafide name for the future.

REMIX’s aim is to encourage, inspire and support young designers as they develop and explore their relationships with fur. It also gives new talent such as Barends, and runners-up Giulia Tesoriere from Italy and Lærke Koldskov from Denmark, a chance to showcase their ideas and designs in front of an international audience.  Since its debut in 2003, over 500 students from more than 22 countries have taken part in the IFTF REMIX project, which now incorporates a brand new menswear category (won by Sophie Skach, from Austria) and a ‘Pimp My Coat’ award (won this year by Japan’s Shohei Ohashi), all shown as part of a runway presentation in Milan every March.  Judges for the final competition include designers Adrienne Landau, Elisa Palomino and Viking Wong along with comedienne and fashion pundit Joan Rivers. 

More than 400 designers worldwide are now using fur on the catwalks of London, Paris, New York and Milan, and fur has put in a strong showing at the latest shows. Global retail fur sales figures for 2011/2012 totalled $15.6bn, more than a half a billion dollar increase on last year’s figures.  In 2001/2002 the industry was worth $10.9bn, demonstrating a 44 per cent increase in value over the last ten years.

For more information about IFTF’s work supporting the next generation of designers, visit wearefur.com

Photography: Luke Norman and Nik Adam