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Nordic Region Real Leather. Stay Different. Student Design Competition 2023

Nordic Region Real Leather. Stay Different. Student Design Competition 2023

30th Jun 2023

Update - Meet the Category & Overall winner of the Real Leather. Stay Different. 2023 Nordic Student Design Competition!

  • Meet this year's People’s Choice Winner, Emese Fedor. Emese's project celebrates leather’s durability and beauty over time, gaining character and depth with each passing year.
  • Meet our Accessories & Overall Winner, Silja Setälä. Silja's design approach involves beginning with hand-painted or handcrafted sketches, which she then enhances and refines using digital methods. Inspired by the growing trend of modular clothes and accessories she set out to design a piece that was both functional and beautiful. 
  • Meet 2023's Apparel Winner, Aida Matuseviciute. Aida is a womenswear designer experienced in pattern making, prints and crafts. Her design was inspired by a deep concern for the environmental impact of fashion and how limited material resources contribute to unexpected creative solutions in upcycled garment surface design creation and construction. 

We are delighted for the second year to partner with the Nordic Region Real Leather. Stay Different. Student Design Competition 2023, a search for the best of the Nordics new designers and for those who want to promote slow style and a more sustainable future for fashion.

Are you concerned about fast throwaway fashion and unsustainable materials? According to Greenpeace, synthetics – made using petrochemicals from the oil industry – now make up 60% of our clothing. These clothes not only take hundreds of years to biodegrade but are often cheap 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 the dairy and meat industries and our growing demand for food — from burgers to milkshakes, can be used to make items that last a lifetime and, when disposed of, biodegrade quickly. Leather is a perfect solution to one of fashion’s biggest problems, but each year almost half of the world’s cattle hides are just thrown away.

To encourage thinking about our planet’s future and to combat this waste, our judges are challenging you to create an original, innovative, and visually stunning design, in one of three categories of apparel, accessories or footwear made from real cattle leather. They would also like to see how entrants approach creating garments that will not only last, but be loved, for a lifetime.



The category winners will have their designs professionally made , and form part of a capsule collection showcasing the best international talent, and unveiled at a final event hosted in Milan in October 2023. Each of the three category winners will receive a trophy, certificate and coffee table book covering the competition and including their entry. Additional prizes to be announced at a later date.


You are asked to use leather as the inspiration for a single item , either clothing, shoes, or accessories . Entries 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. Plastics must only be used where no natural alternatives are available. We would like your piece to capture one or more of the facets of leather, from beauty and versatility to strength and durability.

Entries should include all these elements -

1. A brief summary of your project provided in English.

2. Storyboards and design inspiration.

3. Sketches, flats, technical specifications, and final design (the item does not need to be physically made at this stage).

4. A short two-minute video to introduce you and your design. This is optional but encouraged, as it would make a great addition to your entry.

Please give consideration to ease of recycling, reuse and disposal at the end of the product’s life, and also think about the practicalities of commercial production, as we are looking for designers who will start new brands, fashion movements or style trends.


Applications are open to students currently studying at (or those who have graduated in the past year from) a higher education institution in the Nordic Region, covering Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Greenland, The Faroe Islands and Åland Islands.

Open to fashion, design or craftsmanship students.

Applicants must be 18 years old or older.


Create a profile and upload your entry now via the new competition platform , you can find a ‘how-to’ guide here

Please note: All entrants will automatically have a profile created on ArtsThread.

ENTRY: Free to apply



The Competition will be judged by a panel comprised of representatives chosen by Real Leather. Stay Different. The Panel will select the category winners and Overall Winner. All winners will be notified by email by 15 July 2023. There will also be a People’s Choice award, selected by public vote by the 30th July 2023.


Real Leather. Stay Different is a global campaign that last year reached some 750 million people around the globe. It makes the case for leather and other natural materials, and for making the best use of society’s waste, particularly the hides that are by-products of the dairy and meat industries, before looking to the petrochemical industries for manmade materials. Flexible and durable, leather is part of a more natural alternative to ‘fast fashion’.

For more background information on the competition and the Real Leather. Stay Different. campaign, visit and follow us on Instagram at @chooserealleather and on Facebook .