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The International Student Design Competition ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ announces 2022 winner

Chloe Burney
03 November 2022

Gal Benjamin, a Fashion Design graduate of Shenkar College of Design in Israel, was crowned Winner of the 2022 ‘Real Leather. Stay Different’ award in association with ArtsThread.

The designer was up against 2,000 students from 160 different institutions and 40 countries. The criteria were for young designers to use natural resources to inspire a sustainable future and break the cycle of fast fashion.

Each contestant was required to make at least 50% of their garment or accessory with leather. 120 million hides are discarded every year, ending up in landfill or being incinerated, releasing harmful emissions. The leather industry diverts two million tonnes of global waste from landfill every year, converting these unwanted materials into long-lasting, sustainable accessories and clothing.

Cynthia Guven, Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, Foreign Agricultural Service, on behalf of the US Embassy, said: “Real Leather. Stay Different. is vital in promoting leather to a broad audience and works to ensure best practice and a sustainable future across the global industry. It’s also a wonderful platform for new creative talent as it raises awareness about sustainability in fashion, whether using leather or other natural materials.”

Gal’s design, dubbed ‘Alexithymia’, was inspired by its namesake, which describes the inability of men to recognise and express emotion as a result of repressive upbringings caused by the constraints of the stereotype of masculinity. They added: “I’m amazingly proud to win this award. My piece is made from offcuts of leather from other designs of mine, so I’m pleased to be able to use the leftovers. The whole process really educated me as to how sustainable leather is. My design was inspired by my research into men’s behaviour and the violence and destruction caused by toxic masculinity which translates into Normative Male Alexithymia. It’s intended to challenge the usually aggressive tailoring of menswear.”

The award was presented last night by Chairman of the Judges Kerry Brozyna, Vice President of Wolverine Worldwide. The star-studded panel included Mulberry, HUGO BOSS, and many more industry giants.

Christopher Koerber, Managing Director of HUGO BOSS, added: “The next generation of young designers has a critical role to play. Not only in thrilling with new designs and styles but putting the industry on a footing where sustainability, the use of natural materials, the reduction of waste and a more considered approach to the cycle of fashion, comes to the fore.”

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