Barbara Franchin has dedicated the past 17 years to overseeing International Talent Support (ITS), the emerging design competition and scouting platform she founded in 2002. ITS was established with the aim of offering support, visibility and opportunities to young designers coming from all over the world. ITS has now enrolled over 60,000 applicants, resulting in 550 finalists, and 16,000 projects from 80 countries. Over the years, its jurors have included high-profile fashion individuals such as Raf Simons , Nick Knight , Franca Sozzani and Cathy Horyn . Past finalists have gone on to hold positions at Stella McCartney , Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, among many other brands.
Franchin was born and raised in Trieste in Italy. She graduated with a degree in accountancy, and initially worked in real estate for a brief stint. Her first professional interaction with fashion came after befriending a local dressmaker. She was so impressed by her new friend’s ability to turn ideas into clothes, she quit her real estate job and the pair opened an atelier together. Franchin would go on to expand her network, which enabled her to organise local events dedicated to young and emerging designers.
In early 2001, she launched Eve, a creative agency that includes concept and graphic designer, art directors, audio visual professionals and event planners. In 2002, Franchin launched the first edition of ITS on the back of Eve's initial success.
Selected through a long and rigorous process, the shortlisted designers are hosted in Franchin's hometown Trieste for its annual final, which attracts over 400 guests and members of the press. Franchin has collaborated with a slew of major brands on ITS's prizes including Samsung and Yoox. In addition to promoting emerging designers through the competition itself, ITS also awards industry internships and placements at companies including Swarovski, Vogue and Diesel.
In January 2019, ITS found a new 7,000 square-foot home in the building occupied by Fondazione CRTrieste. The new headquarters — named ITS Arcademy, to merge archive and academy — will be fully unveiled in 2020 and will house the organisation’s offices, as well as the remarkable ITS Creative Archive featuring outfits, accessories and talents’ portfolios gathered from the talent scouting contest’s past 16 editions. In addition, ITS Arcademy will host workshops, educational and training activities involving former finalists, winners and jurors.