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Ethiopian designer Ruth Girmay was awarded the title of ‘Most Commendable Designer’ at The Real Leather. Stay Different. African Talent Leather Design showcase in December.

The grand finale, at the Leather Sector Triple Helix Consultative Forum in Mombasa, Kenya, celebrated design talent from across the continent. The panel of judges included distinguished designer Judy Mania and cofounder of the trailblazing footwear website Podohub.com, Tezera Ketema.

The event showcased talent from across the continent while advocating for the use of sustainable practices in the fashion industry. Ruth Girmay, was awarded the winning title for their work ‘Diversity Bag’.

The showcase transcended borders to spotlight the diverse talent rooted in the continent’s rich artistic heritage, celebrating traditional craftsmanship coupled with contemporary design. It highlighted Africa’s commitment to a sustainable future, and its aim to create a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible fashion industry.

The grand finale displayed innovative and heritage-rich leather designs from fifteen finalists who had been shortlisted from many applicants. To see all fifteen finalists and their winning designs, click HERE.

Preston Viswamo, showcase judge and Regional Design Studio Project Manager at the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute said: “The designers of tomorrow must steer the fashion industry towards sustainability while delivering captivating designs. Each entry showcased a harmonious blend of sustainability and creativity, embodying the future of fashion.”

Jane Li, Vice President, L&HCA, added: “The Real Leather. Stay Different. African Talent Leather Design Showcase marks a vital step towards promoting eco-friendly practices, efficient utilization of natural resources, and propelling Africa towards a more environmentally conscious and economically viable future in leather innovation — whilst celebrating the diverse and creative essence of Africa’s fashion landscape. Today’s grand finale in Mombasa is a testament to the incredible talent across the continent, emphasizing sustainable and mindful fashion practices.”

Ruth Girmay’s work was noted for its remarkable artistry, exceptional craftsmanship, and striking vision. Their Diversity bag is inspired by the colors and patterns of Zebra skin and represents beauty, equality, and strength.

They said: “Receiving this award and recognition is an immense honor. This competition has not only acknowledged my work but also provided invaluable insights into the beauty and potential of natural materials.”

Working with our partners at Arts Thread to develop lifelong learning and career opportunities for students of fashion and design. Our partnership provides the opportunity to compete on a world stage, participate in industry led workshops, set up an outstanding portfolio and gain access to the resources that will kickstart careers in fashion and design.