In times when big companies are gaining more and more power in the fashion industry – and, let’s be honest, in basically all industries –, the mere existence of an independent event like the Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories Festival of Hyères is something to be celebrated.

Throughout its 33 editions the festival has become one of the favourite dates in the year for fashion insiders, industry leaders and young creative talents alike. One of the keys of its success is its laid-back yet professional atmosphere. The location itself is a charming villa in Hyères, a charming town in the French region of Provence.

Yet beautiful surroundings and great energy aside, what ultimately makes the festival so precious is the talent of its participants. Only in the fashion category, this year 10 finalists presented their collections during three days in a row for 1,000 people audience each time.

Even though both womenswear and menswear participate on the competition, on this occasion only two of them showcased menswear collections. Good news is, both of them exhibited an excellent creative level. The Dutch duo formed by Rushemy Botter & Lisi Herrebrugh presented ‘Fish or Fight’, easily the most applauded work during the shows and the winning collection of the coveted Grand Prix of the Jury Première Vision, led by Haider Ackermann and formed by stars like Tilda Swinton, Jefferson Hack or Lou Doillon, among others.

‘Fish or Fight’ is an homage to Caribbean fishermen and a celebration of their culture and lifestyle –both Botter and Herrebrugh share Caribbean roots. The collection takes part in the ongoing conversation on the boundaries of sartorial garments and sportswear, and it does so by using deconstructed, oversized garments as well as graphic elements and embroideries.

Botter, the name of the brand, is also one of the 9 finalists of the 2018 edition of the LVMH Prize for young designers. Definitely a must-watch project.

The other menswear collection showcased on this edition was presented by Russian designer Antonina Sedakova. Inspired by the Russian artistic scene of the 1980s and the rock and film idols of young rebels dreaming with freedom, its mix of roughness and refinement and its smart use of colours and fabrics worked really well in its favor. ‘Communication Tube’ is a collection that joins the post-soviet fashion wave we are currently surfing and it is surely one that will grow on many young men around the world.

Other talents that the world needs to keep an eye on are womenswear designer Marie-Ève Lecavalier – winner of the Chloé Prize and Honourable Mention from the Jury–, jewellery designers Kate Richard, Flora ixy & Julia Dessirier– winners of The Swarovski Fashion Accessories Grand Prix of the Jury – and Eva O’Leary –winner of the Grand Prix of the Photography Jury with ‘Spitting Image’, a series developed thinking about selfie culture.

This edition of Hyères is over, but it is worth to have a look beyond the big winners, as there are some hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Only time will tell.

Images by Marc Medina