The “Real Leather. Be different.” The international design competition for students, run by the Leather and Hide Council of America in partnership with ArtsThread, has opened the 2022 competition and added the CEO of Hugo Boss and the sustainability manager of Mulberry to its jury.
The Slow Fashion Challenge is open to anyone studying art and design or who has completed a college degree in art and design within the last two years. The competition aims to encourage a new generation of design talent to rethink their relationship with leather and other natural materials to create designs that prioritize durability and minimal environmental impact.
Students and graduates over the age of 18 have until June 30 to participate in the “Real Leather. Stay Different.” Competition and must use leather as the inspiration for a single item, either clothing, footwear or accessories, with leather making up at least 50 percent of the item and other natural materials where possible.
Steve Sothmann, President of the Leather and Hide Council of America, said in a statement, “The mission of the competition is to inspire young designers to work with natural, sustainable and responsibly sourced genuine leather – a by-product of the meat and dairy industries – put the skins that otherwise end up in landfills to good use. 120 million hides are thrown away every year.
“In their place, the fashion industry uses plastic, synthetics and faux leather. The result is more demand for oil, more affordable single-use clothing, more waste, more landfills, more microfibers in our waters, and more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.”
Hugo Boss CEO and Mulberry Sustainability Manager join the judging panel for Real Leather. Stay different.” Design competition
The shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their design concept to the judges during a live showcase finale with a trip to London during London Fashion Week on September 15th. As part of the award for reaching the global finals, finalists will also have their design professionally made for presentation to the judges.
The jury includes Christopher Koerber, managing director of Hugo Boss Ticino, and Rosie Wollacott Phillips, sustainability manager at Mulberry, alongside fashion stylist Mike Adler, winner of 2021, and FIT graduates Emily Omesi and Sothmann.
Upon becoming a judge, Koerber said: “A key contribution to achieving a sustainable future for fashion is advocacy among peers and future influencers. Raising young designers’ awareness of the role they can play simply by choosing more sustainable and appropriately sourced materials is crucial. That’s why I’m excited 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’s an important opportunity for us to speak to the influencers of tomorrow and to encourage designers to really think about working with natural, sustainable and responsibly sourced leather are durable. Leather is a beautiful, sustainable material when sourced properly, and slow fashion advocates have a responsibility to champion it.”
The first “real leather. Be different.” The 2021 competition received more than 400 entries from students representing 117 universities worldwide. The winner was Emily Omesi, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, who created a leather jacket design entitled “Bacterial Genetics.”