Fashion graduate behind inspiring WorldSkills Australia uniform!

TAFE NSW fashion graduate Asheligh Huntley is the creative force behind the new-look Skillaroos uniforming proudly warn by 18 Australian competitors – including nine TAFE NSW students – at the 2017 WorldSkills International competition in Abu Dhabi.

The first thing you notice is that the uniform has moved away from the traditional green and gold and has instead reflected the unique qualities and colours of the Australian landscape. Ashleigh studied an Advanced Diploma of Fashion Technology at TAFE NSW and is no stranger to WorldSkills, having competed as part of the 2013 Skillaroos in Germany. We caught up with Ashleigh to get an insight into her life after TAFE NSW and WorldSkills.

What did you study at TAFE NSW?

Ashleigh: When I first started my course at TAFE, my plan was to head into costume design, which I still have a passion for today. In my final year, my goal changed from wanting to work in the costume industry to working in the fashion industry. I was training for 2013 Worldskills International competition being held in Leipzig 2013, and found the additional mentoring and training I received – through WorldSkills and my teachers at TAFE – changed my path to eventually work in Bridal Couture and made-to-measure for clients. So I completed the Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology

What was it like being a Skillaroo?

Ashleigh: It was an adventure and such an exciting experience! It was amazing to be part of such a strong team and to be around people who have a common goal of skills development and excellence on an international scale. The journey was life-changing. A priceless experience where I was able to challenge myself and gain exposure to the international fashion industry. I definitely made some life-long friendships.

What happened after your WorldSkills experience?

Ashleigh: When I came back from the international competition at the end of 2013, I worked as a design assistant for a sportswear company. I soon realised how much I truly missed the hands-on art and creative process of my trade. The amazing experiences that I was exposed to through WorldSkills and couture made me realise that I needed to return to my passion for creative design. So in 2014, I ventured out and started my own dressmaking business (Ash-Lynne Couture) where I worked with clients to make their dream outfits.

How did you end up designing the Skillaroos uniforms?

Ashleigh: I saw the WorldSkills Australia design competition was asking designers to submit ideas for the new Skillaroos team uniform. Having been part of the Skillaroos team in 2013, I was inspired to submit my ideas based on my own personal experiences. My inspiration for the uniform colours originated from the beauty and diversity of the Australian landscape. I designed the uniforms inspired by the sand and ocean, the rich turquoise of our pristine beaches and reefs. The scarf and tie artwork is paying homage to Aboriginal dot paintings in a spiral design.

Functionality was also a key point. I really wanted the design to suit all shapes and sizes and to be cool and breathable in the hot desert of Abu Dahbi. It was a beautiful thing to see the design taken from a drawing to real life, and I felt like a proud Mama when I saw the whole team in it! Very exciting!

What’s next for you?

Ashleigh: If there is one thing my experiences at TAFE and WorldSkills has taught me, it is that I will always be open to new possibilities. Along with running my own label, I have recently returned to TAFE NSW as a teacher. I really believe in giving back and giving someone else the opportunity to learn and grow in in the multi-faceted fashion industry.

Find our more about a career in fashion.