LHCA Inaugural International Student Design Competition becomes annual event

The first ‘Real Leather.  Stay Different.’ design competition was launched in 2020 to find the next generation of outstanding fashion and design students, and to promote the use of sustainably-sourced, natural leather. 

Organizer the Leather & Hide Council of America (LHCA) has confirmed that beginning September 2020, the competition will become an annual event open to eligible universities and their student intake. This decision follows strong international interest in the competition before the advent of, and disruptions caused by, COVID 19.

The competition, which awards prizes ranging from work placements with leading fashion brands including Mulberry to a US tour, was co-ordinated by industry associations in China, Italy, Taiwan and the UK.  More than 800 entries across three categories of apparel, footwear and fashion accessories were received from 25 leading fashion and design colleges and universities.

LHCA President, Stephen Sothmann commented

“As a global leader in leather, we are committed to promoting best practice in quality leather production.  And we are committed to supporting fresh talent, at a time when they need it most. 

We are therefore delighted to announce the continuation of this unique competition. It gives students with an interest in promoting style ahead of fast fashion the opportunity to innovate and inspire, using a natural and incredibly durable material. We would like to thank all participants in 2020 for their patience and look forward to the year ahead.”

An innovative format has seen LHCA and its partners the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA), UNIC – Italian Tanneries, together with Lineapelle (one of the most important leather promotion fairs and networks worldwide), Leather UK and the Taiwan International Leather Association (TILA) work to promote the versatility, beauty and sustainability of authentic leather, and to provide information on leather’s inimitable qualities and the industry behind it. This has been achieved through the provision of educational materials, college lectures and prizes that provide practical experience for the next generation of fashion designers and craftspeople.

LHCA also confirmed that, with first round judging completed in China and Taiwan, final stages of the 2020 competition in these markets will be completed, each culminating in a fashion show and awards ceremony. Italy is now working on the design phase and the first round judging will be completed in July.  Entrants in the UK and Italy will be invited to join the 2021 competition format.

CLIA Chairman, Yuzhong Li commented:

“‘Real Leather. Stay different.’ design competition has fully inspired the young generation’s love for leather. The designs of the participants have demonstrated the insights and design concepts of young designers on leather. From them, we see the bright future of China’s leather and leather fashion market.”

Michael Shih, Chairman of TILA said:

“Innovation and participation of the young people is very important for the leather industry to pass on its heritage to the future generations.  Taiwanese International Leather Association (TILA) will fully support the activities of the ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ Leather Design Competition.”     

Dr Kerry Senior, Director of Leather UK commented:

“It was a huge disappointment for the students, universities and UK leather sector, that the competition could not go ahead as planned. However, we are very excited for the relaunch in September, and the opportunity to showcase the design talent of our students and the beauty and versatility of leather.”

Fulvia Bacchi, Director of UNIC – Italian Tanneries said:

“Promoting and spreading knowledge about leather among young people and, in particular, among young people who are entering the world of fashion and design is a goal that UNIC – Italian Tanneries has pursued with strong determination for years.
It is therefore with enthusiasm that we have joined the ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ design competition, which involves 4 countries/regions. All together we can achieve better and more effective results.

The beauty and charm of leather are not second to its intrinsic and sustainable qualities, which must be an integral part of the cultural background of those who work with this material and choose it in their consumption.”

With new markets and educational establishments invited to participate in 2020/21, the ‘Real Leather. Stay Different.’ design competition will continue to expand giving students the world over a platform to display their talent.

Interested parties should email steve@usleather.org.

About LHCA

Formed by the 2020 merger of the United States Hide, Skin and Leather Association (USHSLA) and Leather Industries of America (LIA), the Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA) is a full-service industry trade association representing the entire U.S. leather supply chain, including meatpackers, hides and skins processors, traders, leather tanners, finished leather goods producers, footwear companies, chemical suppliers, machinery producers, trade media and market reporters, freight forwarders, transportation service providers, financial institutions and more.  The association provides its members with government, public relations, and international trade assistance and support.  LHCA is a cooperator organization under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s foreign market development programs, assisting U.S. firms develop new markets for U.S. agricultural exports. LHCA is at the forefront of the industry’s needs, providing members with education and technical information to compete in today’s global marketplace.