REAL LEATHER. STAY DIFFERENT. reveals international competition winner:  Emily Omesi from the FIT, NYC

2021 International student design competition: winner revealed

REAL LEATHER. STAY DIFFERENT. reveals international competition winner: Emily Omesi from the FIT, NYC

Building on the success of competitions that ran in Italy, Taiwan, China and the UK, the first International Student Design Competition was launched with ArtsThread and Rollacoaster. Attracting entries from 36 countries today we unveil the winner and her design as featured on the front cover of Rollacoaster magazine and modelled by Sano Turdiev

Emily Omesi, a BFA undergraduate of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, has won the inaugural competition with her thought-provoking leather jacket design entitled ‘Bacterial Genetics’, inspired by scans of infectious diseases. Emily is passionate about leather as a material:

“I love working with leather – there is truly no other material like it. It’s durable and can last the wearer a lifetime, but is also very delicate to sew. Handling leather takes patience and practice – similar to creating a sculpture. Every leather hide is unique, which makes the process that much special.”

With nearly 400 entries from 117 higher-education institutions, representing 58 nationalities from 36 countries, the competition encourages the use of leather in delivering a more sustainable future – and the next generation of designers to think about ‘slow fashion’.

The judging panel included Katie Greenyer of the Pentland Group, Mike Adler, Fashion Stylist, and Milan Miladinov, Art Director at Rollacoaster magazine, selected the winner and the four runners-up after a series of video interviews.

With clients including Glenn Close, Josh O’Connor, Maisie Williams, Elizabeth Hurley, Emma Corrin and Monica Bellucci, judge Mike Adler commented:

“This jacket is not only super editorial but its modern and futuristic design easily translates into music and celebrity styling as well as the retail space. We need new designers who will challenge the norm; and can combine sustainability with high fashion effortlessly—Emily has delivered on all these points. From the cover of Rollercoaster to the rest of the world!”

The other four incredible finalists were Alice Morgan (University of Derby, UK), Meghan Beattie (Birmingham City University, UK), Teresita Marrero Escalona (Universidad del Azuay, Ecuador) and Nathalie Hauser (Kolding School of Design, Denmark). Their entries ranged from delicate silver and leather jewellery to intricate patchwork, shape-defining handbags and extravagant costume designs.

The competition’s mission was to spark the interest of future talent to work with the beauty and variety of natural, sustainable, responsibly produced leather in categories of apparel, footwear or accessories using at least 50% leather. The judges wanted to see new pieces that will not only last but will be loved, for a lifetime. Alex Brownless of ArtsThread commented on fashion and waste:

“ArtsThread is proud to be the creative platform for Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition 2021. Our students take sustainability very seriously and clearly this opportunity to tackle a food waste issue resonated with them. Their designs for leather as a sustainable fashion item showed impressive originality and inventiveness.”

Steve Sothmann, President of sponsors L&HCA, set out the challenges for designers and the issue of waste in the industry.

“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. 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. We are in a global search to find and encourage more students and young designers to change the face of fashion and take a stand, and become ambassadors for the planet.” 

As the winner of the Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition, Emily not only takes home the RLSD trophy, but also has had her design professionally made and featured on the cover of acclaimed international fashion magazine, Rollacoaster and modelled by Sano Turdiev.

More about Emily Omesi:

Emily Omesi is a fashion designer based in NYC, who is currently studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she also spent a year studying womenswear in London at Central Saint Martins. She thrives in creating authentic, unique, and one-of-a-kind clothing.

‘Bacterial Genetics’ is a leather jacket design inspired by cell scans from her brother’s research on infectious diseases. Emily’s inspiration also came from 80’s outerwear to create a cropped bomber jacket with an exaggerated dolmen sleeve with sculptured swirls. The jacket is made of 100% cow leather.

The judging panel consisting of Katie Greenyer, Creative Director for the Pentland Group, Mike Adler, Fashion Stylist, and Milan Miladinov, Art Director at Rollacoaster magazine was equally impressed with the four runners-up and the overall quality of work produced.

Runners-up in the final stage of the competition were:

Meghan Beattie for ‘Deep Sea’, Birmingham City University, UK

Nathalie Hauser for ‘Gestalt’, Kolding School of Design, Denmark

Teresita Marrero Escalona for ‘A Tu Gusto’, Universidad del Azuay, Ecuador

Alice Morgan for ‘Fragments’, University of Derby, UK

Check out our special winner’s profile on Emily here!