9 March 2022

Real Leather. Stay Different. has announced that its International Student Design Competition will return for 2022 with the question “Fast Fashion or Slow Style?” Report by ILM.

The competition, which started in 2021, is a global search for new design talent open to students and recent graduates from anywhere around the world and is organised in partnership with ArtsThread, a digital platform for emerging artists and designers.

The inaugural competition received over 400 entries from students representing more than 100 universities around the world. It set out to encourage the use and role of leather in delivering a more sustainable future, and the new edition will focus on a message of future-first, slow fashion.

Entrants will be tasked with designing a single piece of apparel, accessory or footwear using 50% or more leather and, where possible, natural materials. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to join an all-expenses paid live showcase final hosted in London in September 2022, where they will present their design concept to a judging panel, including the winner of the 2021 competition, Emily Omesi.

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Omesi won the 2021 competition with her leather jacket design entitled ‘Bacterial Genetics’. As the global winner, Omesi won the opportunity to have her design professionally made as well as featured on the cover of fashion magazine Rollacoaster. She now works at Oscar de la Renta.

Steve Sothmann, President of the Leather and Hide Council of America, which operates Real Leather. Stay Different., commented: “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 microfibres in our waters and more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

“As a society, we need to take a much broader view about what we consume and how we consume it. Too many of our fashion choices end up in landfill, creating a legacy to today’s society that will be there for centuries. Buying leather that will last a lifetime is a simple way to take a stand against ‘fast fashion’ for the environment.”

The competition will open for entries from Wednesday, March 9.

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