Graduate Spotlight: Tom Fuggle

Tom Fuggle is a natural born creative with talents that spill over from architecture to oil painting and more recently, fashion! His time at the Australian Academy of Fashion Design has been a learning curve for Tom but it has also been an absolute gift to the world of fashion. From a young age Tom had an interest in fashion design but he didn’t originally embrace the idea as a career goal. His attention instead turned to architecture but we at the academy are thrilled that fate eventually stepped in and steered Tom to the world of fashion. Judging by the outstanding work he has produced, it is clear that Tom is destined to be a powerful voice in the world of fashion design. 

As a treat for anyone even just flirting with the idea of moving into fashion, we asked Tom to share his experience, in his own words. 

Can you please tell me a little about yourself and your current situation – i.e. Do you work full-time/part time and if so, what is your job?  Where were you born and raised and do have any strange or interesting hobbies?

I’m an architect by background and work full-time as a project manager in Sydney. I grew up in London and moved to Edinburgh for university. I’ve always maintained creative hobbies, in particular oil painting – when I first moved to Sydney, I obsessively painted water and waves.

Is fashion something you’ve always wanted to pursue, or did it come to you later in life?

I’ve come to fashion in my 40s – I’ve always loved clothing and design but never previously considered fashion as a career option.

Was there a person (or people) who influenced you and your decision to study fashion?

The course was a Christmas present from my wife because she felt that my job at the time was draining and all-consuming and I needed some creative stimulation as a distraction. 

Why did you choose the academy and how did you discover it?

My wife chose the academy because the course combined my love of design and creativity with my love of clothes. I recall that she had a word-of-mouth recommendation.

What does fashion mean to you? Do you think it has an important role in society / the world?

It was only through hearing about fashion history that I realised the extent to which fashion can be seen as an expression of the social and political climate of the day. I think many people think of luxury brands and dismiss fashion as a frivolous waste of money without recognising the broader trickle-down impact on society and the importance of clothing in giving agency to people.   

When you embarked on your course, did you have a clear idea of what direction you wanted it to take you – or did you enrol in the course to try to find that path?

I knew at the outset that I wanted to design menswear, because I’m constantly frustrated by conservative attitudes to what men can and can’t wear and limited choices available in the shops – especially here in Australia where men are fearful of expressing individuality through their clothing in a way which might step outside the accepted norms of the herd. I mentioned this in the first lesson and Zoran Petrovic (our amazing tutor) was very supportive and lent me some menswear books and patterns.

…and how much have you changed your opinion / direction / perspective on fashion since you started studying – if at all?

Studying fashion has definitely opened my mind – we talked a lot in our classes and Zoran gave us a great insight into how the industry works. I’ve been keeping close tabs on the fashion shows and try to work out how the trends are driven by changes in society and what might be coming next.

What have been the most challenging and most interesting parts of your course?

I’ve found pattern making and draping both the most challenging and interesting part because for me, it’s the critical link between a concept and its realisation. I would sometimes bring garments I’d designed and toiles to class and we’d look at them with Zoran and my classmates and we would workshop what needed adjusting.

Has there been anything about the course that has surprised you and what would you say is the greatest lesson you will have learned about yourself as well as fashion since completing the course?

The biggest surprise was how much fashion design was a perfect combination of the creative things I’d done previously – sketching, design, craft, photography – fashion design has everything. I wish I had considered it earlier!

How do you view sustainability in fashion? Do you see it as a challenge or as a necessity (or both) and is it something you are conscious of, and do you intend to make choices based on more circular and sustainable products and manufacturing?

Having started making my own clothes through the course and understanding the time and material cost involved, I’ve realised that the cost of fast fashion is not being paid by the consumer, but by the exploited workers and environmental impact of cheap synthetic materials. I’m now much more conscious now of buying less, buying better, and checking fabric labels for biodegradability and locality of production. But the industry has a long way to go to turn things round.   

If money was no object and you had total freedom to do anything you wanted – what would be your dream project?

I dream of presenting a complete runway menswear show – to me, the collection, show setting, models and music all come together as a complete work of art.

Are there designers or artists who you admire and why?

I’ve been closely following the work of Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent. Each season he really drills down into a narrowly focused set of ideas – but he’s managed to very successfully define a new Parisian silhouette, sculptural, stylish and nonchalant. He’s possibly the most influential force on high-street womenswear at the moment. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m not sure about the next 5 years but it’s important to position yourself to be able to jump when a good opportunity arises. With this in mind I’m working on a few things which will help me better articulate what I’m about – improving my portfolio: bettering my sewing skills so that I can produce more examples of my designs, finding a male model who is a good fit for some photographs, and designing a womenswear mini-collection.

If Tom’s journey has ignited something in you, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the courses we offer.  Whether you are already knee deep in the world of fashion design, or you just want to dip your toe and see if its for you, we have a selection of courses to suit all levels. We also have different study modes to suit different lifestyles, so take a look. You never know, it could be that very first step towards the career you’ve always dreamed of. 

Add new comment

Written by: Fiona Byrne

We're here to help

Our experienced team can answer any questions you have about our courses and the payment options available. We can also advise you on the materials you need to get started. Whether you want to change career, upskill, or simply learn the basics, we have the right course for you.

Just contact us and we will arrange to call you back.

Contact Us

Australian Academy of Fashion Design ©2024