Young fashion designer’s career on the rise

Young fashion designer’s career on the rise

31 October 2015

New Zealand fashion week was only the beginning for young fashion-entrepreneur Ezekiel Crawford (Hamilton House 2012-13) whose career is on the up-and-up after attracting the attention of New Zealand Fashion Week and international brands.

Crawford graduated in 2013, with a t-shirt label under his belt, a large social media following and the grades to secure him a spot at one of the most credible architecture universities in the country, the University of Auckland.

Now, two years later, he has raised the bar. He launched a new street wear label that attracted capital from an international investor and caught the attention of New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW).

“I was looking for a new avenue to do something creative. I had been working on a lot of different projects over summer but I wanted to establish a more professional outlet that would make me some money,” Crawford explained.

So, he launched Slaeve – a high-end androgynous streetwear label. Think Kanye West for Adidas.

He started drawings and concepts at the beginning of 2015 and poured his energy into finding funding. It took him two or three months of back-and-forth meetings and continuously writing proposals before he managed to get an investor on-board through NZ Investors Online.

Once he had some capital to play with, Crawford boldly approached NZFW: “I emailed them and told them that I was young, unique and had something different to offer. Within 15 seconds I had a call back saying ‘we’re interested, send through your portfolio in three days’.”

It was a frantic rush. Crawford and two friends spent 48-hours non-stop sewing to get samples made, photographed and presented to the organisers. The end result was all worth it. Crawford was contacted and asked to showcase his collection.

From there, it was only four weeks before he had to have a full collection ready to showcase.

“It was a big move to do something like that, particularly when most brands start preparing for fashion week a year in advance. I knew I had a lot ahead of me but I also knew I had an opportunity to make my mum and dad proud.”

Crawford’s parents are the biggest motivators in his life. He is hugely aware of the sacrifices that they made to give him a quality education and the very best opportunities at life.

“Being able to attend St Paul’s was on the back of my parents’ mortgage. I didn’t grow up in a household with lots of money but ever since I was young they wanted to send me to Tihoi so they made it happen.”

“Working towards good grades and becoming a prefect was a way that I could show them I was thankful. They didn’t care what the outcome was just as long as I was doing my best.”

From good grades and school prefect to becoming a young successful business entrepreneur, the investment Crawford’s parents made in his education has certainly paid off.

Since showcasing his label at NZFW doors have opened for the young designer. So-much-so that in 2017 he will take a gap year from university to focus on big projects that have come his way.

“It’s spiralled into something bigger than I ever thought it was going to be. I’ve had lots of meetings with multimillion dollar brands that have asked me to collaborate with them. There is so much on the backburner at the moment.”

Although NZFW has presented opportunities for Crawford with big projects in the pipeline, he says none of this just landed on his lap – he had to work hard for it. He took on some valuable advice by NZFW mentors who suggested he follow up with contacts and chase leads after the show.

“A lot of people have gone to Fashion Week before and say that they didn’t get anything out of it. The problem is that they didn’t follow up like they should have. As soon as it ended I was on the hunt to make connections and follow up with people I met.”

As well as collaborating with major fashion labels – none of which can be named at this point due to business negotiations still taking place – Crawford has been invited to attend two leading art schools in New York.

“I need to go to Soho for two weeks to liaise with the schools and to look at suppliers, stores and marketers while I have the heat behind me.”

To get to the Big Apple, the “biggest platform” for his label, Crawford is fundraising for thirty-thousand dollars. To raise the capital needed he is releasing a one-off exclusive collection for his label Slaeve and is launching a lifestyle blog called The Soho Project.

The inspirational go-getter says anyone can make the same opportunities happen that he has, it’s just “whether or not they are willing to keep working at it when things are down.”

“It wasn’t smooth sailing for me this whole time. I would stay up until 11pm doing my uni work and then spend hours after that designing. Even up until now, trying to get the investor on board, I was writing proposal-after-proposal so that I could get someone behind me.”

“I knew once I got someone backing me, I could make it work. It comes down to continuing to grind when you just want to sleep.”

(Source: Karen Pickering)