Celebrating Africa’s Most Innovative Leather Designers

The grand finale of the Real Leather. Stay Different. African Talent Leather Design Showcase 2023 in partnership with the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute took center stage on December 13th in Mombasa, Kenya at the Leather Sector Triple Helix Consultative Forum.

Celebrating Africa’s most innovative leather designers, this event served as a platform showcasing exceptional talent from across the continent while advocating for the use of sustainable practices in the fashion industry.

African designer, Ruth Girmay, was awarded the winning title of ‘most commendable designer’ by the judging panel 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 but also contemporary design. It paid tribute to Africa’s commitment to a sustainable future, and its aim to foster 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, spanning ten countries from Burundi to Zimbabwe by our esteemed judging panel. The panel consisted of leather industry experts, from specialist Preston Viswamo, to distinguished designer Judy Mania and cofounder of the trailblazing footwear website Podohub.com, Tezera Ketema.

Preston Viswamo, showcase judge and Regional Design Studio Project Manager at the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute, praised this years’ incredible selection of entries, commenting: “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, from Ethiopia was crowned the most commendable designer of the 2023 African Showcase for their exemplary piece titled Diversity Bag. Ruth Girmay’s work was applauded for its remarkable artistry, exceptional craftsmanship, and striking vision. Diversity bag is inspired by Zebra skin color and the pattern it also represents beauty, equality, and strength. Celebrating their achievement.

Ruth Girmay commented: “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.”

The Real Leather. Stay Different. Global campaign plays a crucial role as a champion for the use of leather and other natural materials, as well as the responsible management of waste, whilst supporting the next generation of creative business talent with an aim to re-build, re-educate, and re-position.

The creation of the African Talent Leather Design Showcase in partnership with ALLPI, signifies a concerted effort to foster sustainable leather value chains and emerging creatives through education within Africa.

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