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The final of the Real Leather. Stay Different. International Student Design Competition 2023, took place in fashion capital Milan. Moving from London, the awards ceremony was held at the Museo Nazionale Sciencze e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci where the judging panel made, for the first time, the decision to jointly award the prize to Tamar Elbaz, for her work WHIM, and Ana Del Rio Mullarkey for El Domingo.

The full judging panel comprised Christopher Koerber, Managing Director, HUGO BOSS Ticini; Paola Arosio, Head of New Brands & Sustainability Projects at Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana; Gal Benjamin, the 2022 RLSD international winner; Leanne Elliott Young and Cattytay, Co-Founders of the Institute of Digital Fashion and Mike Adler, Style & Fashion Director.

Judge Christopher Koerber, Managing Director, HUGO BOSS Ticino, commented: “The designers of tomorrow bear the responsibility to lead the fashion world towards sustainability while still captivating audiences with innovative designs. Today, we saw that future come to life with two entries that stood-out. Both Tamar and Ana’s work exemplified this ideal, showcasing a harmonious blend of sustainability and creativity.”

Tamar Elbaz, a third-year Fashion Design student at Shenkar College of Design, Engineering and Art, in Tel Aviv, was recognised for ‘WHIM’, inspired by Jean Hans Arp’s ‘Human Concretion’. It explores biomorphic themes, embodying rounded silhouettes and non-amorphic features. The project echoes Arp’s sculpting style, transcending boundaries and evoking surrealism in the viewer. Ana Del Rio Mullarkey, a recent graduate in Fashion Design BA (Hons) from De Montfort University, was recognised for ‘El Domingo’ which offered the judges an outstanding hand-crafted design drawing inspiration from her Madrid upbringing.  She presented a vision for the future of leather – delivering singular pieces that last, and are loved, for a lifetime and more.

Celebrating the joint Award, Tamar commented: “I’m deeply honoured to receive this award with Ana. It recognises my dedication to sustainable design and my passion for authentic, sculpted materials like leather. This competition has not only provided recognition but also real learnings about the beauty and potential of natural materials.”

Ana added: “I am so happy that the people voted for me and that the judges recognised my enthusiasm for developing a more sustainable fashion future – and my absolute passion for using craft and innovation to create those items that people want, love and cherish – for a lifetime or more. It is a huge thrill to be awarded this prize with Tamar. Hopefully this marks the start of a leather revolution.”

The award was presented by Carlo Capasa, President of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion. Co-Chair of the Judges and Vice President of Wolverine Worldwide, Kerry Brozyna, commented: “It’s imperative we continually reassess our material choices and production methods. With leather a by-product of the food industry, the decision becomes clear. As we tap into land resources for sustenance, it’s our duty to utilise the by-products efficiently. Before resorting to fossil fuel derivatives, the focus should be on natural, enduring and eco-friendly materials.”

The awards, held with Lineapelle, UNIC, Arts Thread and the Institute of Digital Fashion featured four finalists, each an individual category winner – Tamar Elbaz (apparel winner, Shenkar College of Design, Engineering, and Art); Alida Xavier (accessories winner, Instituto Marangoni); Sara Veneziano (footwear winner, Accademia Costume & Moda) and Ana Del Rio Mullarkey (Peoples’ Choice. De Montfort University). They competed head-to-head with presentations and panel interviews to be crowned the overall international winner.

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.