Winners Announced in Nationwide Fur-Free Fashion Competition

Dec 11, 2013, 12:59 ET from The Art Institutes

Students from Miami, San Francisco and Hollywood Create Fur-Free Fashion and Earn Top Awards from The Humane Society of the United States and The Art Institutes

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Luis Aponte, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at Miami International University of Art & Design, put his own fur-free spin on a Derek Lam garment to win the grand prize in the ninth annual Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition. Aponte earned a cash prize of $1,000, and was also awarded an expense-paid, week-long internship in New York City with celebrated fur-free designer and competition judge Victoria Bartlett.

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The competition, sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States and The Art Institutes, challenges fashion students at The Art Institutes system of schools throughout North America to creatively reinterpret and replace animal fur on runway designs by Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Ford, Derek Lam, or Moncler.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with The Art Institutes for the ninth year of the Cool vs. Cruel fashion design competition. This competition gives us the opportunity to reach hundreds of students each year and educate them about problems in the fur trade, including mislabeling, environmental impacts and welfare concerns for the millions of animals killed every year for their fur," said Michelle McDonald, fashion outreach manager of the Fur-Free Campaign for The HSUS.

This year's competition featured an additional challenge — students were not permitted to use faux fur in their designs, which encouraged innovation and non-traditional material choices. Competition winner Aponte recreated the look of animal fur by using foam peanuts. He painted them, grouped them together, then sewed them into the garment to create a unique looking fur substitute.

"The Cool vs. Cruel Competition showcases our students' design talents and provides an important lesson to our students about thinking outside the box when creating designs," said John Pufahl, vice president of academic affairs, The Art Institutes. "We are excited to continue our partnership with The Humane Society of the United States to make fur-free design more mainstream."

Second place winner Jesus Romero, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of CaliforniaSan Francisco, a campus of Argosy University, earned $750 for his fur-free redesign. Third place winner Josue Beltran, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of CaliforniaHollywood, a campus of Argosy University, was awarded $500.

The judges' panel consisted of professionals from the fashion industry, including designers Carmen Artigas; John Bartlett; Victoria Bartlett; Leanne Hilgart; Kimberly Ovitz; PAPER magazine editor Mickey Boardman; designer and founder of OlsenHaus, Elizabeth Olsen; founder and president of Donna Salyers' Fabulous Furs, Donna Salyers; writer and editor Nell Alk; and designer and founder of Brave GentleMan, Joshua Katcher.

The finalists' work may be viewed ="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">here.

Learn more about the competition, view the original runway looks, and find out about The Humane Society of the United States fur-free campaign at To learn more about The Art Institutes, visit

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty – on the Web at

The Art Institutes ( is a system of more than 50 schools located throughout North America. The Art Institutes schools provide an important source of education for design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. OH Registration # 04-01-1698B; AC0165; Licensed by the Florida Commission for Independent Education, License No. 1287, 3427, 3110, 2581. Administrative office: 210 Sixth Avenue, 33rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. See for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important information.

SOURCE The Art Institutes