We are delighted for the second year to host the International Real Leather. Stay Different. Student Design Competition 2023, a search for the best new designers around the globe and for those who want to promote slow style and a more sustainable future for fashion.

Are you concerned about fast throwaway fashion and unsustainable materials? According to Greenpeace, synthetics – made using petrochemicals from the oil industry – now make up 60% of our clothing. These clothes not only take hundreds of years to biodegrade but are often cheap 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 the dairy and meat industries and our growing demand for food — from burgers to milkshakes, can be used to make items that last a lifetime and, when disposed of, biodegrade quickly. Leather is a perfect solution to one of fashion’s biggest problems, but each year almost half of the world’s cattle hides are just thrown away.

To encourage thinking about our planet’s future and to combat this waste, our judges are challenging you to create an original, innovative, and visually stunning design, in one of three categories of apparel, accessories or footwear made from real cattle leather. They would also like to see how entrants approach creating garments that will not only last, but be loved, for a lifetime.



You are asked to use leather as the inspiration for a single item, either clothing, shoes, or accessories. Entries 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. Plastics must only be used where no natural alternatives are available. We would like your piece to capture one or more of the facets of leather, from beauty and versatility to strength and durability.


Entries should include the following elements:

1. A brief summary of your project provided in English.
2. Storyboards and design inspiration.
3. Sketches, flats, technical specifications, and final design (the item does not need to be physically made at this stage).
4. A short two-minute video to introduce you and your design. This is optional but encouraged, as it would make a great addition to your entry.

Please give consideration to ease of recycling, reuse and disposal at the end of the product’s life, and also think about the practicalities of commercial production, as we are looking for designers who will start new brands, fashion movements or style trends.



The competition opens March 1, 2023, and closes on June 30, 2023. Any entries submitted after that date will not be accepted.

Register for the competition via the link below to create your profile and upload your entry.




Each of the three category winners will receive a trophy, certificate and Coffee Table Book covering the competition and including their entry. The category winners will have their designs professionally made, and form part of a capsule collection showcasing the best international talent, and unveiled at a final event hosted in Europe in October 2023.



The Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition 2022, in association with our friends at ArtsThread, has now closed. Chosen amongst almost 400 entries, this year’s International Overall Winner was decided by our panel of judges at the competition final in Soho, London.

Congratulations Gal Benjamin, a Fashion Design graduate of Shenkar College of Design in Israel, who modelled his winning design, ‘Alexithymia’.

Stay tuned for the 2023 International Student Design Competition, open for registration soon.



“More than 100 billion items of clothing, worn on average just seven times, are thrown away annually, taking 10s if not hundreds of years to biodegrade.”

Slow Style. Fast Fashion. Or both?

Almost half of the world’s leather hides, created by our ever-growing demand for fast-food – burgers and milkshakes, are just thrown away every year. Our student design competition puts some of this waste to use.

Learning Materials

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