International Student Design Competition People’s Choice Winner 2023: Ana Del Rio

People's Choice Winner: Ana Del Rio

International Student Design Competition People’s Choice Winner 2023: Ana Del Rio

Ana Del Rio Mullarkey’s British-Spanish heritage provides her with a rich dual-cultural perspective that informs her work. Intent on leading a leather revolution, Ana aims to create contemporary, timeless leather garments that defy fleeting trends and highlight leather’s sustainable attributes. Her commitment to sustainability was solidified during her placement year at 3RD ROCK Clothing, a sustainable activewear brand. Raised in Madrid, Ana cultivated her passion for fashion through art classes and workshops at the Fashion Museum. At fifteen, she relocated to England to pursue Fashion and Textiles A Level, followed by a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design from De Montfort University. Her accolades include the Fashion Innovation Award at Graduate Fashion Week 2023 and the Leathersellers’ Design Award for her leather work.



Tell us about the inspiration behind your project:

My Spanish heritage has been hugely influential in this collection as the inspiration for it has been the quintessential Spanish Sunday traditions I enjoyed when growing up in Madrid. The silhouette of this garment is based on the traditional jacket of a “traje de luces” (bullfighter´s suit). The crop, the two pieced sleeves and the seam placement all mirror the jacket as does the placement of the motifs on the garment. The shape of the motif however, is inspired by the traditional tiles found inside typical Spanish bars where people congregate to enjoy an “aperitivo” (aperitif) before a long relaxing family lunch on Sundays. The 3D effect created by manipulating the surface of the leather is inspired by the elevated surface level stonework on the facades of the traditional village buildings where I would visit my grandfather on a Sunday.


How do you think winning this competition will impact your career as a designer?
First of all, it is an endorsement of my work which leads me to believe that I have started out on the right road to attaining my overall goals. Such recognition is so highly motivating and fires the desire inside me to prove that I have the creativity, ingenuity and conviction to become the designer I want to be in the future. I also believe it will open doors for me as it will allow me to network within the fashion and leather industry as well as being able to share and promote my work with the public who I hope will become future clientele. I know from now on in the future, I would like to keep specialising in leathercraft in fashion design and I feel this is the springboard for me to establish the “Ana Del Rio” brand vision.


What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?
Leather is the perfect material to design with due to its inherent properties. Its moldability and malleability have meant I have been able to experiment with a wide range of techniques such as wet moulding, embossing and quilting along with new cutting and sewing techniques. These techniques have allowed me to think outside the box and create exciting new ideas merging traditional leathercraft with modern technology in order to promote innovation within fashion design. Leather’s durability and longevity have allowed me to think about designing wearable pieces which are timeless and which last for many lifetimes. This has all made the design process an even more enjoyable experience.


How has this competition influenced your view of working with leather in the future?
This competition has helped me to reinforce my desire to work with leather. Designing and making this jacket has reassured me of how much I enjoy working with this material and how many possibilities it brings in terms of garment aesthetic. I feel as if usually leather garments stick to a more traditional, plain surface which I would like to steer away from. In the future, I hope the “Ana Del Rio” brand is known for pushing the boundaries with innovative leathercraft and giving leather garments a fresh look, creating a leather revolution. I hope my future designs will become staples in people’s wardrobe, as timeless durable leather garments. Also, knowing that there is such a large international community involved with leather also inspires me to see how far I can push my designs and how they will be accepted by an international audience both of fellow designers and clients alike.


Click here to view all the shortlisted entries from this year’s International Competition.

Click here to learn more about leather and sustainability.