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African Talent Leather Design Showcase


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. 

To encourage thinking about our planet’s future and to combat this waste, we are looking for great, original, innovative and visually stunning designs in three categories – apparel, accessories and footwear – designs that inspire.

These should be made using real cattle leather as the primary material to create items that will not only last, but be loved, for a lifetime or more. Up to fifteen items will be selected for the Showcase. They will represent the best of African design from the best new designers, selected by an international panel of curators to create a stunning exhibition with one Showcase designer being invited at the panel’s discretion, to attend the finals of the Real Leather. Stay Different. International design competition in Milan. 

The Showcase is run by Real Leather. Stay Different. with its partners, the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute [ALLPI].

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

Showcase submissions open on 18 April 2023 and close on 30 June 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 30 June will not be accepted.

Publicity: All exhibitors and their works will be publicised in Africa and beyond through media relations and marketing through our digital and social portals including chooserealleather.com.  


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.


The entry should include the following information: 

  1. A brief description of the item and its development in English
  2. Storyboards and design inspiration explaining how it was conceived and why it was made
  3. 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) 
  4. 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: 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 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 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 part of a capsule collection showcasing the best international talent and will be unveiled at the Real Leather. Stay Different. event hosted in Milan, Italy in October 2023. This designer will also be awarded a trophy and a trip to attend the final event (travel and accommodation expenses covered by the organisers). The organisers reserve the right to host a digital event in the case of travel restrictions being in place. 

Note; Participation in the Showcase or travel to Milan is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered. The organisers reserve the right to replace the prize with an alternative prize of equal or higher value if circumstances beyond its control makes it necessary to do so.

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