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‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ names 2022 finalists

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Image: ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’

The ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ international student design competition, run by Leather and Hide Council of America in partnership with ArtsThread, has shortlisted four designers that will participate in the global final during London Fashion Week in September.

This year’s competition received almost 2,000 entries, from more than 130 academic institutions across 40 countries, with the four shortlisted designers selected from universities in the UK, US and Israel.

The four designers for the overall prize have already won the individual category awards for Apparel, Accessories and Footwear, as well as the People’s Choice award, and will compete in a head-to-head live London final on September 15 in front of a judging panel during London Fashion Week to be crowned the overall winner of the 2022 international competition.

Image: ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’; Gal Benjamin / Anna Melegh

The finalists are Gal Benjamin from Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, Israel, who took the apparel accolade for a pair of leather trousers, Anna Melegh from London College of Fashion, UAL, who won the footwear category for her haute couture boots, and Gianluca Ambrosini from SCAD Savannah, USA was named the winner of the accessories award for her leather shopping bag.

The competition also saw 37,000 votes for the People’s Choice award, crowning Lior Weinberg from Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, Israel as the winner for her leather jacket entry.

The category winners were chosen over a month-long selection process involving ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ representatives and a judging panel of leading fashion industry representatives who accessed entries anonymously, with their scores being aggregated to establish each category winner.

Image: ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’; Gianluca Ambrosini / Lior Weinberg

‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ competition to crown overall winner during London Fashion Week

The finalists will present their designs to the judges, including Hugo Boss managing director Christopher Koerber and Mulberry head of sustainability Rosie Wollacott Phillips during the live final on September 15, with the overall winner announced during the Awards Party that evening.

All international and regional winners are having their pieces professionally made by London-based AForce, the leading fine leather specialists and recycling gurus, as part of their prize, which will be on display at the event as a special capsule collection.

In addition, digital fashion partners, the Institute of Digital Fashion (IoDF) will take the apparel category winner’s design ‘into the metaverse’ by creating a 3D digital asset representing Gal Benjamin’s work, enabling it to come to life through an innovative AR as a try-on that can be experienced by anyone, wherever they might be in the world.

Commenting on the winners, Wollacott Phillips said in a statement: “It was an unbelievably challenging task for everyone involved in the selection and judging process to identify the category winners, such was the quality, diversity and sheer volume of entries.

“I am deeply encouraged by what I have seen. Creativity is alive and well - and there is a real appetite in these young designers to explore how they can incorporate leather into their work.”

Alex Brownless of ArtsThread, added: “The Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition is an important opportunity for us to talk to the designers of tomorrow who will challenge the norm and can combine sustainability with fashion effortlessly. Arts Thread is proud to be the creative platform for this competition and it is clear that our students take sustainability very seriously. Something demonstrated by the impressive number of entries received this year.”

Leather and Hide Council of America
London Fashion Week
Real Leather. Stay Different.