Rowing and sewing: LCF fashion sportswear student Alasdair Leighton Crawford on combining his passions
Alasdair Leighton Crawford is a second year Fashion Sportswear student at LCF. Last year he was chosen to represent Sony Ericsson and the LiveView Design Project at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and to showcase his motion responsive cycle jacket. As well as winning plaudits for his design skills, he also has a history of rowing for Great Britain – a perfect platform to launch a career in sportswear. We caught up with him to hear how these passions converged and led to a sustainable work ethic.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience rowing for Great Britain?
Whilst working full time, I won the National Championships in the summer of 2005 and used this as a springboard to break into the Rowing Team. I represented Great Britain for the first time in summer 2006 at the Eton World Rowing Championships at Dorney Lake – this year’s Olympic Rowing venue!
From 2005 to 2008 I was a professional athlete and competed at World Cups, World and European Championships. Here’s a video clip of me racing – from Munich 2007 World Championships.
Highlights were winning a world cup bronze medal and coming 3rd at the Final Trials in the Beijing Olympic Year (2008).
Rowing is a gruelling sport that requires patience, self-scrutiny and dedication to achieve success. Competing internationally was a lifelong ambition and although I did not achieve all my goals, it gave me the opportunity to discover my strengths and weaknesses. This has led to me now studying Fashion Sportswear at the London College of Fashion!
What came first for you, fashion or sport? How did your passion for sportswear develop?
Definitely sport! I’m very hyperactive and sport is one way of controlling it… and I’ve always had a keen interest and eye for design.
Being a professional athlete, you have a lot of rest time, and this enabled me to explore my creative side. Looking back, getting into sportswear design was the perfect substitute. It enabled me to divert my energy and enthusiasm to something that could last a lifetime, as opposed to being a successful athlete, which is often short-lived.
I have always loved creating things, and was always encouraged to think and question, which were beneficial in choosing a design career path.
How it began.
I taught myself to sew, by copying, altering and refining shirts. I love Liberty fabric and it was a good excuse to use it! I continued to learn; made a suit jacket on a training camp to Australia in 2009, which then got me work experience on Saville Row.
During the camp, however, I was diagnosed with a serious back injury that ultimately forced me to retire.
Working on Saville Row.
Initially I learnt on weekends, but this evolved until I was working a 5½ day week. I acquired invaluable skills, which began with a thimble and needle and progressed to making minor alterations, mark-stitching garments and ultimately baste fitting jackets for customers to try on.
It was while I was doing this that I felt that I needed a more creatively expressive outlet, and I realised that sportswear was what I was most passionate about. So I applied, and successfully enrolled on the BA Fashion Sportswear Course – under the expert tuition of Claudine Rousseau and her colleagues.
Can you tell me about the Sony Ericsson project?
The Sony Ericsson project was a collaborative project with the London College of Fashion. It was a really cool project to work on, as we got to play with their new SmartWatch, which was unveiled in January. I loved every aspect of the experience, as it helped me to progress my skills and integrate technology into the final garment.
And the trip to Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is an amazing and very different cultural experience to anything I have ever done before. I think that the easiest way to describe it is as a Disneyland for adults, in a very beautiful desert surrounded by mountains. See my blog post for details!
Ambitions for future Olympic Games? Sports or design-wise?
For me Sportswear Design is my Olympic Games, and through success has the potential to make a positive and continued impact on peoples lives.
I love a variety of sports that are threatened by climate change. With my background as a former athlete, a degree in geography and now as a developing designer, I feel that it is paramount that I develop sustainable products that limit environmental degradation. I am acutely aware of glacial retreat as a result of global warming – having seen this first-hand over many years. This has left a lasting mark on me to do something, and highlights the importance of tackling global climate change – in an industry that needs to become more accountable.
Friday, February 10th, 2012