Q: So, tell us how it all began? What made you pursue a career as a designer?
A: Since I have been a child, I’ve always been a fussy dresser. I’m of a smaller build so finding clothing to fit me just the way I liked was always a struggle. My mother was a dressmaker so I had the luxury of having outfits made for me from the age of 6. Consequently, my preference for a good fit was embedded early.
As I made my way through high school and then university, studying accounting, marketing and advertising, I realised in my early 20s that I wanted to pursue a creative career with a strong preference towards helping people look their absolute best. I would regularly find myself shopping and styling with family and friends as those close to me trusted my opinion. It was not until I became friends with the son of a tailor that my world started to change.
My years working at PwC unveiled the need for good fitting and contemporary tailoring for slimmer men. Having no luck finding what I wanted in retail at the time, I turned to my friend’s tailoring workshop for the answer. Referencing my father’s 70s tailored jackets and pants that fit me so well (minus the bell-bottoms!), local tailors would make me unique made-to-measure pieces. I chose my own vintage fabrics and simply loved the process.
Taking up a job as the assistant to the Loreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Creative Director in 2004, I quickly grew a fascination with the world of fashion and everything that brought a brand to life. Therefore, it wasn’t long until I realised a corporate job was not for me. I teamed up with my friend and his family’s tailoring workshop in Collingwood to explore the opportunity of creating a brand.
Nurturing my raw creative instinct, I spent a year training under the guidance of master tailors, pattern makers, cutters and fitters to learn the craft. Before I knew it, I had left my corporate job in marketing to pursue the business full-time. Designing my first men’s and women’s collection early in 2007, I opened my first store in September that year under the brand name Godwin Charli. The ‘Charli’ embodied my parents (Charles and Evelyn) which represents all of their sartorial influence up until that point.
Q: How do you feel the difference of working in the fashion industry today compared to the days you began your brand in 2007?
A: The biggest difference between now and then is the digital world we now live in. Everything is simply a click away for consumers. You’ve got to be clear on what your brand stands for and where it fits in the market digitally because traditional “bricks and mortar” are dead. After 13 years I’ve gone back to what gave me the edge – designing made-to-measure garments.
Q: What is your favourite part about being a designer?
A: Simple – the reaction from customers when they try on their custom garments. There’s nothing better than making people feel great about themselves and giving them the confidence to look their best and face the world. It’s my little contribution to a happier society.
Q: Tell us a bit about your latest collections in menswear and womenswear.
A: Menswear – I love creating lifestyle collections that feature options for every day of the week, all whilst maintaining that level of polish and sophistication my customers have come to love about my brand. One way I achieve this is through smart casual jackets which are a subtle yet effective. Being made from textured wools, cotton, and knitted varieties from England and Italy, they give a nod to Neapolitan tailoring. This theme carries through to the trouser options which feature my signature dress chino and pleated/cuffed wool designs. To put it simply, it’s all about carrying an effortless look with just enough charm and presence to make people notice. My winter outerwear designs maintain my minimal yet refined silhouettes to accentuate the masculine form and protection from the elements.
Womenswear – With a primary focus on the structured garment, my vision for the season was to create timeless investment pieces with a contemporary edge across all jackets, coats and suiting. Large checks, cord and tweed all play a starring role. Think neutral, warm tones accented by premium buttons, metal closures and luxurious fabrics. Browns, greens and blues feature heavily throughout the collection with a focus on weighted, more structured fabrications. Brushed wools, twills and silk blends also make an appearance, creating a tailored wonderland.
Q: What are your 5 must have items in any wardrobe?
- Navy Blazer
- Denim shirt
- Well fitted coat
- Versatile suit
- Cocktail or Black – Tie outfit
- Trench Coat
- Cropped Jacket
- Power suit
- Double Breasted Coat
- Pencil Skirt
Q: Made-to-Measure is a special service provided under your label, tell us the
process of it and why do you think everyone should consider this service?
A: My made-to-measure service is unique in that I design my collections for both men and women. I curate fabrics for the season and present visual stories of my products displayed in my showroom and my website. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation because making decisions based on fabric alone is challenging, even for the seasoned professional. My customers trust my aesthetic and I do my best to guide them through the process.
The process starts with an initial 15 minute “Fit Profile” assessment where we make fit observations based on my existing patterns. The customer tries-on ‘fit garments’ so we can determine correct lengths, body contouring, unique posture and style preferences. It’s a very efficient and enjoyable method with constant communication between ourselves and the customer. Our goal is to create your unique blueprint and pattern which can be applied to any future clothing options.
Once this image is captured, it’s now time to build your wardrobe. The showroom becomes your private sanctuary to create the looks you desire. Our intimacy with the product, from concept and design through to construction and styling, positions us best to consult you on what will work for you. We encourage collaboration to ensure the customer gets what they want all whilst providing the fabric and style framework. It is truly a wonderful experience!
Q: For both men and women, what are 3 important things to consider when it comes to getting a suit made?
FIT – Get this wrong and no matter how expensive the fabric is or how prestigious the garment make is, you will be wasting your money. Fit is everything. Invest the time with a professional in getting this right.
FABRIC – Understanding the purpose of the suit is critical to determining the right fabric. Are you a heavy wearer? Does your body temperature run hot or cold? Is the suit for occasional or regular use? Does climate play a factor? What colours/patterns work best for you?
EXPERIENCE – Along with men and women being quite different, everyone’s own body and their requirements vary therefore it takes years of experience to consult correctly. Navigating fit, style and purpose is one thing but delivering the product you promise is another. It’s a jungle of brands out there so do your research to find one that is reputable.
Q: What are the best pick up trends for Winter 2020?
A: For men, it has to be the more relaxed tailoring options. Effortless style but with precise execution. For women, the longer length outerwear pieces are my pick of the season.
Q: Let’s chat about your women’s collection – tell us what makes it unique from all of the other brands.
A: I’m a specialist in tailored garments for women. My experience in designing and styling for women over the past 13 and a half years has taught me not only how to fit women but also understand what women want when it comes to tailoring. Godwin Charli makes women feel powerful and confident so that her presence in any room is felt. She does not need to be bold and loud but demands perfection in fit, quality and comfort.
My style is timeless, structured and elevates the female form. I stay true to what I do, respect the craft and strive to get better every day through improved design and my obsession with fabrics.
Q: How do evaluate men’s fashion in the last decade?
A: Men’s fashion has most certainly come a long way in the last decade. Pop culture has influenced buying behaviour more than ever through the consumption of digital content. The more relaxed working environment has also shaped how men turn up every day with a greater reliance on streetwear but now fused with more tailored options. Men are owning their look these days and I like that.
Q: There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season so what advice would you give to young designers just starting their career and hoping to make it in the industry?
A: Be clear on who you are. What is your purpose for designing? Who are you designing for? Stick to that and you’ll be able to produce constant results. Also understanding your customer and delivering the product they want because at the end of the day, we don’t have a business without loyal customers.
Q: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
A: Being grateful for every single customer that walks through my doors. It’s an absolute privilege to create more than just clothes for every one of them and all are appreciated for supporting what I do. Seeing clients happy makes me happy.