Fashioning a new life for himself

Otago Polytechnic fashion student Crichton Tahana (42) shows off some of his end-of-year designs...
Otago Polytechnic fashion student Crichton Tahana (42) shows off some of his end-of-year designs to be showcased tonight at the polytechnic’s annual end-of-year fashion show. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Crichton Tahana has gone from rags to designing his own riches,  after turning his back on a life of crime to graduate with a fashion design degree.

Mr Tahana, originally of Papakura, in Auckland,  was  released from jail after an 18-month stint.

"My mind was all over the place."

His checkered past, dabbling in crime all his life, meant he struggled to find work.

"I fell off the wagon for a while and just got into a lot of crime and trouble."

Then  the high school dropout decided he needed to make a change.

"I thought ‘life has got to be more than jail’."

From watching others, Mr Tahana worried  about where he would end up.

So, he decided to go "back to school".

Now he surrounds himself with a different group of people.

In the six years since first enrolling at Otago Polytechnic, Mr Tahana has graduated with two certificates and this year will be presented with a bachelor  of design (fashion) degree.  It was only by chance he got into fashion design, as he originally intended to study product design.

"Me being me, I didn’t fill out the paperwork properly and missed out on placement."

He asked if there were any other course placements available at the time and

was lucky enough  to find one in fashion design.

"I just jumped on it and ended up loving it."

His garments are all made from recycled materials.

"I think we’ve got enough waste in the world already."

Once he graduates, he hopes to continue making his own stock to slowly build up his reputation and sell items online.

Dunedin-based fashion brand Senorita AweSUMO designer Fiona Clements even gave him an industrial sewing machine to get started.

Mr Tahana’s  work will be on display tonight at the Otago Polytechnic’s end-of-year fashion show "Collections 17" at The Hub on the corner of Union and Forth Sts.

The show will also have designs from Shanghai University of Engineering Science students as part of the Shanghai Dunedin Sister City Fashion Communication Project.

As well as this, one "hard-working" third- or fourth-year student will receive a WORLD fashion internship to be announced tonight.

Doors for the show open at 7pm.

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