‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ calls for entries and adds judges


The ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ International student design competition, run by Leather and Hide Council of America in partnership with ArtsThread, has opened the 2022 competition and added Hugo Boss’ managing director and Mulberry’s sustainability manager to its judging panel.

The slow fashion challenge is open to anyone studying art and design or who has graduated from art and design higher education within the last two years. The competition aims to encourage a new generation of design talent to reconsider their relationship with leather and other natural materials to create designs where longevity and minimal environmental impact is key.

Students and graduates over 18 years old have until June 30 to enter the 2022 ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ competition and need to use leather as the inspiration for a single item, either clothing, footwear or accessories, with leather forming at least 50 percent of the item, and where possible other natural materials.

Steve Sothmann, president of Leather and Hide Council of America, said in a statement: “The competition’s mission is to spark the interest of young designers to work with natural, sustainable, responsibly produced real leather — a by-product of the meat and dairy industries — which puts hides that otherwise go to landfill, to good use. 120 million hides are thrown away every year.

“In their place the fashion industry uses plastic, synthetics and fake pleathers. The result is more demand for oil, more low-cost disposable clothing, more waste, more landfill, more micro-fibres in our waters and more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.”

Hugo Boss managing director and Mulberry sustainability manager join judging panel for ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ design competition

Shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their design concept to the judges during a live showcase final, with an all-expenses-paid trip to London, during London Fashion Week on September 15. As part of the prize for making the global final, finalists will also have their design professionally made to present to the judges.

Image: ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’; Christopher Koerber, Hugo Boss Rosie Wollacott Phillips, Mulberry

The judging panel will feature Christopher Koerber, managing director of Hugo Boss Ticino and Rosie Wollacott Phillips, Mulberry’s sustainability manager, alongside fashion stylist Mike Adler, the 2021 winner, and FIT graduate, Emily Omesi and Sothmann.

On becoming a judge, Koerber said: «A significant contributor to achieving a sustainable future for fashion is advocacy amongst peers and future influencers. Raising awareness amongst young designers about the role they can play by simply choosing more sustainable and appropriately sourced materials is vital. This is why I am pleased to support RLSD ’22 as it will help drive positive change and innovation by inspiring the next generation of design talent.»

Wollacott Phillips added: «It is an important opportunity for us to talk to tomorrow’s influencers and to encourage designers to really consider working with natural, sustainable and responsible sourced leather. The leather industry diverts two million tonnes of global waste from landfills every year and converts unwanted materials into accessories, clothing and footwear which are made to last. Leather is a beautiful, sustainable material when sourced properly, and the proponents of slow fashion have a responsibility to champion it.»

Image: ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’; Emily Omesi 2021 winner

The inaugural ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ competition in 2021 received more than 400 entries from students representing 117 global universities. The winner was Emily Omesi, a graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, who designed a leather jacket design entitled ‘Bacterial Genetics’.



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