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CharlieBoy is found in Fashion


CharlieBoy is found in Fashion

Designer Charles Kennedy

TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio graduate Charles Kennedy examined his relationship with gender and embracing his Indigenous heritage in his Australian Fashion Week debut.

Mr Kennedy knew he wanted to be a designer at the tender age of six, when a school task to choose your future career was presented.

“I don’t know where it came from, but I have a vivid memory of being in year one – on careers day – and we were being asked to draw ourselves and make a collage signifying what we wanted to be when we grew up,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Most of the other students were drawing themselves as builders, firemen, nurses etc. but I distinctly remember pulling a piece of material from the classroom wall, cutting it into a top and pants and pasting in onto my collage.

“The teacher asked me what I wanted to be for a caption to paste with the collage and I said, ‘My name is Charlie and when I grow up, I want to be a fashion designer.”

For over 60 years, TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio has produced some of the biggest names in the Australian Fashion Industry. This year, Charles Kennedy is one of five top performing graduates from the Bachelor of Fashion Design 2020 who will launch their collections on the catwalk at The Innovators show as part of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. 

The graduate show, now in its 25th year, has earned a reputation for being one of the week’s “hottest shows,” and is an important launch pad for emerging Australian fashion designers both locally and internationally. 

This year’s collections hone in on the theme of No Boundaries, reflecting the limitless potential of creative expression, and reinforcing the importance of sustainability in fashion.

“I’ve had an interesting background, which I’m still coming to terms with. Living in Sydney all my life, my mum worked at the Australian Institute of Architects, and I had the great fortune of spending time there and speaking with artists and architects about their work and process,” Mr Kennedy said.

“As a third-generation Indigenous descendant who appears European it’s been difficult for me to reconcile that part of my heritage. It wasn’t until my father passed away that I began to understand and embrace that side of myself.”

The collection ‘Nouveau Genese’ seeks to create a sense of power, passion and identity within the audience. The collection strips back and takes an inward look into the designers own understanding of self, self-formed and informed identity. 

“With this collection I wanted to play with tailoring and drape, incorporating two opposing techniques and styles. Experimenting with fabrics to make smooth, flowing pieces but with an element of classical structure. I really wanted to push the levels of consumer adaptability and create something which at a base level could work between a broad spectrum of body types and consumers,” Mr Kennedy said.

“I want to break down classical notions of gender and age in fashion and to embrace shareability of clothing. That this shirt you wear can also be worn by your brother, friend, niece, or mother. I want consumers not to be afraid to try a style.”

Forged in the fires of the 2020 pandemic, the graduate designers’ collections reflect the intensity of that time and their vision for the future of fashion post COVID-19.

“At the moment people are looking for adaptive wear things they can wear between various situations and events. Items that can work both for the office, and for contemporary street wear. Think transitional garments, tailored and structured pieces with consideration to a more relaxed fit and cut,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Loose clothing and pieces that feel comfortable to the skin and on the body, natural, comfortable and breathable fibres and materials are paramount.

“People are also certainly taking notice of the impact they can have and wanting the things they buy to be more ethical and sustainable and for there to be more transparency in manufacturing.”

As the only fashion school in Australia to present graduate collections at Fashion Week, TAFE NSW is proud to introduce the new generation of creative fashion designers to industry.

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 0402 528 210.