Bazaar NewGen finalist Joe Kean on his internship with Charles & Keith

SINGAPORE – Charles & Keith is probably one of the most well-known and well-loved Singapore brands with a truly global presence.

Specialising in footwear, handbags and fashion accessories, the brand boasts more than 640 stores in 35 retail markets, along with 55 online markets.

To design and create for Charles & Keith means that a young designer has a chance to not only learn from established designers and a large and successful company, but to also possibly make his design imprint on a global scale.

For Mr Joe Kean, one of six finalists for the Bazaar NewGen 2022 edition, the chance to do a six-month internship with the brand was an unparalleled learning opportunity.

A Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts graduate, Mr Kean was the crowd favourite in the NewGen competition. He won the Bazaar Academy Choice Award 2022 (as voted for by the Bazaar Academy) with his collection, Shapes Of Human, Human Of Shapes, which took inspiration from the human form.

The 25-year-old says of his internship, which started in March: “The experience has been amazing. It has opened up my knowledge about the industry by exposing me to a new part of fashion – shoe design.”

Another important skill he picked up was the importance of marrying functionality with aesthetics. “It is important to keep the target consumer in mind while designing,” he says.

Harper’s Bazaar Singapore spoke to Mr Kean as well as his mentor Fredie Stevens, director of design at Charles & Keith, to find out more about this opportunity, what he has learnt along the way and how working with a global fashion brand has changed his mindset.

What have you most enjoyed about your internship so far?

Joe Kean (JK): My internship placement has been with the Charles & Keith shoe design department, and I would say designing and sketching shoes is something that I have enjoyed the most.

I incorporated the design language that I applied on my garments into shoes, and it has been a joy being able to explore my creativity in a different way.

What has this design education meant to you as an aspiring designer?

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