Photo: Ash Jahromi

Ryerson fashion student’s original leather jacket wins Danier Design Challenge

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By Adriana Parente

Ekaterina Kuzheleva, a third-year Ryerson fashion design student, created a leather jacket that won first place in the Danier Design Challenge.

The annual design challenge is a partnership between Ryerson University and Danier which helps promote young designers and is a requirement for fashion design students in their third year.

“The school allows me to become deeply involved in the industry by introducing me to amazing opportunities,” said Kuzheleva. “It was an absolute certainty for me that I wanted to test my skills and enter this challenge.”

Kuzheleva said she had no experience working with leather before participating in the challenge.

“Leather is completely different than fabric and there is no room to make mistakes when working with it,” said Kuzheleva.

Despite all the difficulties in sewing, she focused on the overall silhouette, fit and details. In the end, she said the results were rewarding.


Photo: Ash Jahromi

Kuzheleva used traditional fabric manipulation techniques like smoking and trapunto when creating the jacket.

“It was important that my design would have a certain degree of attention and craftsmanship, so that the customer could feel the warmth of this handwork and foster a close connection with the garment,” said Kuzheleva.

When Kuzheleva was designing the leather jacket, she tried her best to steer away from fast fashion trends.

“My goal was to challenge traditional perception of what we commonly associate with a leather jacket, but stay within the borders of marketability,” said Kuzheleva.

Kuzheleva’s designs were also one of the finalists in the Telio and North American Fur Auction (NAFA) student design competitions, the winner of the Lindt Excellence Award for evening wear design in second-year and she is currently in the midst of designing a menswear collection that was accepted as a top five finalist for Emerging Menswear Designer Award and showcased on the runway for Toronto Men’s Fashion Week.

In the meantime, Kuzheleva said she is working on another fur design that has been selected by NAFA and she plans to return to her menswear line in the summer.


  1. A bit of a different take on this topic – using dead animal skin and fur to make clothing. this from Cosmopolitan UK’s senior fashion editor, Sairey Stemp,

    NAFA – North American Fur Auction uses fashion students to try to regain a foothold on the Western fashion market. They give fur away to students. It’s a sick industry, and one that has been exposed quite well.

    You put your conscience on the shelf, when you pick up a fur or leather coat. Compassion, empathy for the suffering of animals is nowhere to be found in this business.

    Fashion Editor Shuts Down Fur Company With Epic Response
    Feb 5, 2016

    ‘Cosmopolitan UK’s senior fashion editor, Sairey Stemp, received an email from a company promoting the use of real fur and swiftly sent them this epic reply….

    “I’m afraid this email has really upset me”, she wrote back. “I think you need to be aware of the extremely barbaric practices of the fur industry. I cannot and will not tolerate an industry that sees fit to torture, skin alive, electrocute and castrate innocent animals so their pelts can be used for ‘fashion’.

    Speaking to HuffPost UK Style, Sairey said: “I cannot fathom why people feel the need to wear fur. Frankly it’s archaic, have we not developed from Neanderthal times? Clearly not.”

    “The fur industry is one of the most barbaric, hideous, cruel and bloody industries. The reason it continues is simply because of money. If people didn’t buy and wear fur, if the fashion industry didn’t use and support it, then it would cease to be a viable commercial industry and the fur farms would close.

    “I’m ashamed to say that fur is still a big part of the fashion industry. Young and established designers are often offered support in return for using fur in their collections. Fur is portrayed as being “luxurious” – to me it’s an obscenity.

    “It is because I know where fur comes from, how animals are beaten, electrocuted and skinned alive for their pelts that I would never ever shoot fur or feature it in my pages. Perhaps if every person who wore an item of real fur had to watch that poor innocent animal being tortured they might think twice and shun this disgusting practice.’

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