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Exclusive look at the work of the fashion graduates set to take on the world


TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio graduate and self-confessed individual of the family Thomas Zilioli channels architecture, structure and sustainability in his Afterpay Australian Fashion Week collection ‘Zilioli’.

Mr Zilioli said his fashion journey was not hugely influenced by his immediate family, and that it was his grandmother who really sowed the seeds and nurtured that side of his creativity. 

“I live at home with my parents but I’m somewhat the odd one out. I have three brothers who are all tradies – a plumber, an electrician, and a fridge mechanic – my mother works in mining and my dad does general maintenance for nursing homes,” Mr Zilioli said.

“Despite these disparate influences my grandmother taught me how to knit so that I was knitting at age ten and picked up other hobbies like cross-stitching and hand sewing soon after.

“After school I began designing costumes for drag queens and bridesmaids' dresses but was very taken with architecture so decided to pursue that career path to begin with.”

For over 60 years, TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio has produced some of the biggest names in the Australian Fashion Industry. This year, Thomas Zilioli 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 realised, that like my family, I was good with my hands and appreciated being able to physically make something. I decided to enrol in the Bachelor of Fashion Design and the architectural influence still stays with me.”

Zilioli is a luxurious custom couture brand aimed at achieving an experience. Every garment goes through exploration and development with innovative mediums and classic techniques. With the aim to always grow and push the envelope, while taking inspiration from other areas of craftsmanship.

“My passion is still Architecture with a hint of drama and theatrical design, so I have injected a lot of my love for structure, form and flair for the dramatic into this collection.

“I looked at designs by Zaha Hadid and Mark Rothko, I wanted to mesh my two passions together, so I spent time playing with the medium, using laser cutting machines and 3D printing chain mail.”

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.

“I remember feeling this intense cloud of worry during lockdown. We didn’t know what we were designing for, or what we would even be coming back to. How long would this last?” Mr Zilioli said.

“It made me want to push the envelope and just go as far and as crazy and as big as I possibly could with it because there were no limits.

“I want people to wear my clothes and feel confident and daring, to make them feel the absolute best they possibly can.”

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: Kellie Dillon, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 0408 006 866.