Annual competition launches with future-first, slow fashion message – showcasing the next generation of global design talent that champions ‘slow fashion’ through use of long-lasting natural leather products.

The Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition (RLSD), in partnership with ArtsThread, the leading digital platform for emerging artists and designers, is now open to students and recent graduates from anywhere around the world. The annual competition showcases the next generation of global design talent and champions ‘slow fashion’ through use of long-lasting natural leather products. Entries will be accepted at

The inaugural RLSD competition, last year, received over 400 entries from students representing more than 100 universities around the world.  RLSD 2022 encourages the use and role of leather in delivering a more sustainable future by asking the question “Fast Fashion or Slow Style?” as it searches for the next generation of design talent with a future-first, slow fashion message. Entrants will be challenged to design a single piece of apparel, accessory or footwear using where possible natural materials and 50% or more leather.

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 of fashion pioneers and future industry experts including Emily Omesi, the winner of the inaugural 2021 competition. 

Above is 2021 winner Emily Omesi final piece. She is the first judge appointed for September’s global final in London.

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Emily won the 2021 competition with her well-thought and provocative leather jacket design entitled ‘Bacterial Genetics’. As the global winner Emily won the opportunity to have her design professionally made as well as featured on the cover of famed fashion magazine, Rollacoaster. She now works at Oscar de la Renta.  Full details of the 2022 judging panel and competition prizes will be revealed in due course.

The competition is run by Real Leather. Stay Different. on behalf of the Leather & Hide Council of America [L&HCA]. US Leather accounts for more than 37% of all hides exported globally each year. As such, L&HCA recognises its role and responsibility in promoting leather to a broad audience and in working with the industry around the world to ensure best practice and a sustainable future. 

Steve Sothmann, President of L&HCA, 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 micro-fibres 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.”

Alex Brownless, Co-Founder & President of ArtsThread, added:

“The creativity and passion for leather demonstrated in the competition last year was impressive and there was no doubting the quality of the design talent as demonstrated by Emily, her fellow finalists and the hundreds of entrants. 

“We are delighted to once again be supporting Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity for students, who due to the pandemic have seen a dwindling number of options, to showcase their talent but it also highlights the critical need to reject fast fashion and replace this with slow style.”

For more information please click below: