We are delighted to unveil the Real Leather. Stay Different. African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023, a search for the most talented of Africa’s designers working with leather and natural materials. The mission, to create a Showcase of the very best in African design and, at the same time, promote slow style and a more sustainable future for fashion and the planet.



The Showcase is for design talent concerned about fast throwaway fashion and unsustainable materials. According to NGO Greenpeace, synthetics – made using petrochemicals from the oil industry – now make up 60% of our clothing and are increasingly found in the environments around us, from cars to homes. Synthetics and plastics not only take hundreds of years to biodegrade but are often cheap to buy and poorly made. The result – nearly one billion items of clothing, each typically worn just five times – are thrown away every year.

In the meantime, leather, a natural by-product of dairy and meat production, can be used to make items that last a lifetime and, when disposed of, biodegrade quickly. Leather is a perfect solution to one of the planet’s biggest problems, our throw away culture. And yet, ironically, each year almost half of the world’s cattle hides are thrown away.


You are asked to use leather as the inspiration for a single item in one of three categories of your choice: clothing, shoes or accessories.

The design must be at least 50% cattle hide leather and any other materials used must be natural or organic materials where possible.  We do not accept the use of fur or exotic skins such as but not limited to; crocodile, snake skin or any rare or endangered animal species. Plastics must only be used where no natural alternatives are available. The piece should capture one or more of the facets of leather, from beauty and versatility to strength and durability.


Entries should include the following elements:

– A brief description of the item and its development in English

– Storyboards and design inspiration explaining how it was conceived and why it was made

– Sketches, flats, technical specifications, and final design and/or photography if the item is already produced (the item does not need to be physically made at this stage).

– A short video to introduce you and your design. This is optional but encouraged.


Considerations: Please think about ease of recycling, reuse and disposal at the end of the product’s life, and also think about the practicalities of commercial production. We are looking for designers who will start new brands, fashion movements or style trends or who are looking to help their business grow through becoming part of this prestigious competition. 

Production: All entrants shortlisted to join the showcase will be asked, if necessary, to supply or make their design for exhibiting. Where resources are limited, materials will be provided by the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute and can be made at one of its satellite design studios.


Showcase submissions open on 18 April 2023 and close on 4 August 2023. ALLPI will host an online webinar on 18 April to introduce the Real Leather. Stay Different. campaign and launch the African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023. Any entries submitted after 4 August will not be accepted.

Entry is simple and can be done entirely online via the link below. Whilst having physical items to photograph may provide an advantage, detailed designs are also welcome.



Designs that celebrate the beauty, versatility & sustainability of leather and champion slow style.

Designs must be made of at least 50% leather from cow hide.

Any other materials used must be natural or organic materials, for example wood or any natural fibres.

No fur or exotic skins. Our mission is to cut waste and utilise materials that would otherwise be sent to landfill.

Plastics must only be used where no natural alternatives are available.

Meet the judges

Preston Viswamo has work experience that spans over 25 years, he has acquired skills and knowledge from a variety of industries, including leather, NGO and education sectors. His proficiency covers leather value chains, cluster development and management. It also spans footwear design,  production technology and vegetable (organic) leather technology. He has experience in NGO management, tertiary education management, and micro enterprise/microfinance programmes.



Teklemariam Gebrehiwot is a professionally qualified and experienced leather products technologist and leather craftsman. With more than 44 years of experience in the industry. His extensive knowledge and skills cover leather products design and manufacturing, such as leather goods and garments. He is an effective and efficient production and technical manager, quality manager, training instructor, and technical consultant. He educates various public, private leather product enterprises and training institutions related to leather and leather products.





Judy Mania is the founder and CEO of Siafu Leather, a bespoke leather manufacturing company based in Nairobi, Kenya. She is an incredibly creative designer with a passion for circular economy, ethical and sustainable fashion. She showcases her interests through her production house. Judy also engages with the audience physically in meetings, round tables, and through her online writings on various media platforms.






Tezera Ketema, an Ethiopian residing between Ethiopia and Canada, has primarily devoted his adult life to the leather industry, with a particular focus on footwear design and technology. In 2005, he founded Podo Pal, and the company was selected to design, manufacture, and supply parade boots for the Canadian Winter Olympic and Paralympic Team in 2006, held in Turin, Italy. The Team was named the best-dressed of the 2006 Winter Olympics, and the company was consequently awarded the Hudson Bay Company Premier National Partner Award and the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Award.”


A panel of curators will select up to five showcase participants in each of the three categories. The selected 15 participants, as well as the People’s Choice Award winner, will have the opportunity to create their items at any of ALLPI’s satellite studios. These created items will be featured in the RLSD African Talent Leather Design Showcase scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya. They will also receive a certificate and five Coffee Table Books covering the competition that includes their designs. The most highly commended design, selected by the panel of curators, will be awarded a trophy and feature as part of a capsule collection showcasing the best international talent.


Real Leather. Stay Different. is a global campaign that has reached some 750 million people and hundreds of thousands of students. It makes the case for cattle leather (and other natural materials) and for making the best use of society’s waste and that hides, as the by-product of the dairy and meat industries, should be considered before looking to the petrochemical industries for manmade materials. Flexible and durable, leather is the natural alternative to fast fashion.

The African Talent Leather Design Showcase will run alongside the annual International Student Design Competition and regional competitions in Italy, China, the Nordics, Taiwan and the UK.

Educational Materials

Want to learn more about how using leather cuts waste, landfill and carbon? Or about its durability, versatility and timeless style?