Former professional rower Alasdair Leighton Crawford is a London-based trained tailor and sportswear designer and maker, who teaches our new short course: Bodywear and Activewear Design. We caught up with him to talk about his career and the exciting courses starting soon.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am a sportswear designer (technical developer) who specialises in advanced techniques for making and developing sportswear apparel and accessories, and I work on a variety of bespoke and commercial applications. This often includes making the prototypes in-house all the way through to the production samples.
How did you go from competing for the Great Britain Rowing Team to enrolling on Savile Row as a trainee?
It sounds random, but there is a connection -- they both require immense discipline, and ritualistic practice to hone the skills to become a master tailor. As I had a lot of time on my hands outside of competition training, and I loved making things, something just clicked from a fascination and obsession with making the sportswear better. Initially I believed becoming a tailor would be the perfect substitute for professional sport and so I learned to hand-sew and also draft patterns from some books I found online. What I had learned got me a foot in the door of Tailors shop which was awesome!
How did your London College of Fashion (LCF) journey start?
The sportswear course was only a few years old at the time when I was beginning training as a tailor. I felt something was missing and I realised that I needed to combine tailoring and sportswear. So, I was lucky to get a place at LCF (Sportswear) which enabled me to explore my own take on building and making clothes. I'm super luck to have been so well supported by University of the Arts London (UAL) and LCF -- I'm keen to enthuse more people into the field! Also, being in London gives you the edge, but I'm biased!
What part did LCF take in your career and personal development?
LCF represented the foundations to my learning and really opened me up to possibilities and opportunities, for which I will always be grateful. The link to industry was a game-changer and working on a variety of hi-profile projects with companies like Sony, Nike pushed me to go further down the creative fabrication route of design.
Could you walk us through both your short courses? What can students expect? Who would you recommend them to?
In a nutshell:
Streetwear and Sportswear Design:
This is a function class based non practical intro to design streetwear and sportswear. You will look at Function and Aesthetics, the design process, analysis and communication, presentation and design development using paper, sketching and computer aided design (CAD).
Streetwear and Sportswear Construction Techniques (practical course):
This a foundation course which introduces you to making highly technical, functional and aesthetically trend driven collections. You'll learning about what is activewear, Technical fabrics and their applications, basic pattern block construction. Be introduced to sample sewing and learn sewing skills ultimately by finish a small project. These are both beginner courses, so I would recommend to anyone who has an interest either from the design or making side to get stuck in and see if this is for you.
What are some exciting projects you are working on now?
In my area of work, I have to sign lots of NDA's so I can't tell you too much other than they are exciting and I am working with industry experts building innovative solutions for everything from Sporting firsts through to technical streetwear clothing. My personal brand gives you a flavour of what I have worked on – so check it out.
What’s your stance on sustainable design and exploring new and innovative materials?
Ok, so this is a big bug bear for me. Firstly the textile industry is the 2nd biggest polluter after the oil industry. That means that the time is ripe to make it happen. This does of course mean 2 things. 1) Buy less (as a consumer) move away from fast fashion. 2) make smart decisions with textiles manufacturing and production. There are loads of options. But what is currently missing is an industry wide accepted standard for the carbon-footprint and other negatively impacting processes on our environment. I'm sad to say that there is still way too much green washing, and not enough being done fast. Which in itself represents a huge opportunity for start-ups to trail-blaze.
You’ve worked with amazing brands, what’s your favourite part of the sportswear and streetwear industry? Any exciting technological advancements coming soon?
I think I'm a hybrid,as I like the whole circle of problem solving, within the development of a product. Which I guess is why I freelance/ have a small brand, CIMORO. That said solving a problem for me is where the forefront of design is and should be, not just creating for the sake of sales; but moving the boundaries of what is clothing for humans and how can it be better for our planet.
In terms for fabrics and technology, there are loads of different projects out there doing crazy things with textiles cross-pollinating ideas from different industries. But what I think is super interesting and I'm keen to explore/ excited about are biodegradable biopolymers which have come from a plant base -- these are not the only solution, but they are meaning that we don't need to just rely on oil to make hi-end man-made materials. This area is only going to get bigger as the continued trends set by Greta Et Al force the big into submission.
Any advice for anyone looking to work in the streetwear and sportswear industry?
Learn 3D! It's going to be big (not just in clothing design, but in gaming and movies). In terms of getting in, persistence and self criticism are going to be your allies in moving around. It's super competitive, but that being said the industry like most are being transformed by digitalisation. Which is why, some of the coolest stuff is being done in an indie way. I personally believe it is an awesome time to be in the start-up scene, as the increased over-heads of the old-school companies, means that small agile newcomers with a small highly creative outlook fair favourably both to the consumer and to the bank! You just have to go for it!
Bodywear and Activewear Design is available for bookings now. Courses start at the end of march!
Follow Alasdair's Brand on Instagram : @cimoro_