International leather-focused student design prize reveals inaugural winner
The Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition has announced its first-ever winner: Emily Omesi, a BFA undergraduate at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.
The competition, which challenged students around the world to design apparel, footwear or accessories using at least 50% leather, attracted almost 400 entries from 36 countries, representing 58 different nationalities.
Entitled “Bacterial Genetics,” Omesi’s winning entry is a leather jacket inspired by cell scans from her brother’s research on infectious diseases. The jacket, which is made from 100% cow leather, also channels 80s influences into a cropped cut and exaggerated dolmen sleeves with sculptured swirls.
Four runners-up made it to the final of the competition, including Meghan Beattie from Birmingham City University, UK; Nathalie Hauser from Kolding School of Design, Denmark; Teresita Marrero Escalona from Universidad del Azuay, Ecuador; and Alice Morgan from the University of Derby, UK.
Launched this year in association with ArtsThread and Rollacoaster magazine, the competition, which is funded by the Leather & Hide Council of America (L&HCA), seeks to inspire the next generation of designers to work with natural, sustainable and responsibly produced leather.
The judging panel of the inaugural competition included Katie Greenyer of the Pentland Group, fashion stylist Mike Adler and Milan Miladinov, art director at Rollacoaster magazine. In line with the prize’s focus on sustainability, the judges were looking for durable pieces that could last a lifetime.
“In a world increasingly threatened by human activity, where waste is piling up and oceans flooding with plastic, it is up to every single one of us to make a change,” commented L&HCA president Steve Sothmann in a release. “Promoting slow fashion and encouraging the use of sustainable materials like leather, that would otherwise end up in landfill, is at the core of what we do.”
As the winner of the Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition, Omesi receives the RLSD trophy and has also seen her design made professionally and featured on the cover of the A/W 2021 issue of Rollacoaster.
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