Helena Waker, Marja-Liisa Niinikoski and Jens Laugesen join as judges for the Nordics Student Design Competition

Nordic Student Design Competition 2022: Meet the Judges

Helena Waker, Marja-Liisa Niinikoski and Jens Laugesen join as judges for the Nordics Student Design Competition

The inaugural Real Leather. Stay Different. Nordics Student Design Competition 2022 has announced the appointment of three leading industry figures to the judging panel for its first ever competition. Helena Waker, CEO of Stockholm Fashion District & Association of Trade Partners Sweden, Marja-Liisa Niinikoski, Managing Director of Finnish Textile & Fashion and award-winning Danish fashion designer and consultant, Jens Laugesen will preside over the selection of the winner who will ultimately have their design professionally made and showcased at the international final, on the eve of London Fashion Week, in London on the 15th of September.

Leather Art and Design

Open to anyone studying art and design or has graduated from art and design higher education within the last two years, the Real Leather. Stay Different. Nordics Student Design Competition 2022 is run in partnership with ArtsThread.  The competition’s mission is to encourage a new generation of designers to reconsider their relationship with leather and other natural materials to create stunning designs where longevity and minimal environmental impact is key.

Competition entrants will be challenged to design a single piece of clothing, footwear or accessory using 50% or more leather. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their design concept to the judges during a live showcase final, with an all-expenses paid trip to London, during Fashion Week in September. As part of the prize for making the global final, finalists will have their design professionally made to present to the judges. The competition is now live, with entries being accepted until 30th June. Sign up here.



Helena Waker

“Stockholm Fashion District is an innovative and unique community with a focus on nurturing and supporting creativity and innovation. A significant part of our work is to encourage sustainability and development in the fashion industry, values shared by the RLSD Nordics ’22 competition which I am excited to support.”

Helena Waker is CEO of Stockholm Fashion District & Association of Trade Partners Sweden – an international business network with strong roots in fashion and design. Its members include agents, distributors, designers, importers or suppliers. It has over 100 years of experience in national and international trade, establishing collaborations with business networks, organisations and government. Trade Partners Sweden is the founder and operator of Stockholm Fashion District.



Marja-Liisa Niinikoski

“At Finnish Textile & Fashion we envision a design future that inspires and promotes sustainable, circular and digital innovations in the global textile and fashion industry, as well as promotes Finnish innovations and design talent to an international audience. The RLSD Nordics ’22 provides an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of young designers regionally and beyond whilst raising awareness amongst them about the role they can play by simply choosing more sustainable and appropriately sourced material.”

Marja-Liisa Niinikoski is Managing Director of Finnish Textile & Fashion – an employers’ association with over 200 member companies in the textiles and apparel industry. It represents the Finnish textile, fashion and apparel industry employers when negotiating collective agreements. Since 2004 she has specialised in leading organisations providing expert services, firstly in regional development and international trade, then in investment before her current role.



Jens Laugesen

“A significant contributor to achieving a sustainable future for fashion is advocacy amongst our peers and future influencers as it helps to drive positive change and holistic innovation by inspiring the next generation of design talent. I am delighted to be part of the judging panel for this year’s Real Leather. Stay Different. Nordics Design Competition 2022 as it is an important opportunity for us to mentor and talk to tomorrow’s influencers and to encourage designers to really consider working with natural, sustainable, and responsibly sourced leather.”

Jens Laugesen is an award-winning Danish fashion designer, consultant and video artist who holds two master’s degrees in Fashion Management from Institut Français de La Mode in Paris and Central Saint Martins in London. With over 20 years of experience within the international fashion industry, Jens is an experienced creative thinker, famed for his hybrid design methodologies, based on a personal “hybrid reconstruction” philosophy that focused on what fashion would be after de-construction.  Developed during his MA studies at Central Saint Martins, this translated into a credible urban collection epitomising ‘90s deconstruction”.  Today his work is a statement of 21st century “conceptual Luxury”, combining ‘high concepts’ with the traditional craftsmanship of the Luxury market.