High-end streetwear label Slaeve is a brainchild of Ezekiel Crawford, a 19-year-old Bachelor of Architecture student at the University of Auckland, who also works as a graphic designer for a new vodka label start-up and has recently started an internship at Ignite Architects.
Creativity has always been a big part of his life. "I started sewing at a young age, with my grandma helping me hand-sew teddy bears, and then at 10 I was sewing my pillows. In year 13, I did start a little print on t-shirt company," Crawford said, adding that his grandmother taught him most of what he knows.
"I guess a few people resent me because I have not had any training or studied fashion design. I just do a lot of research and a lot of drawing; I don't want anyone to influence my creative process."
Aged 18 Crawford founded Slaeve, a proudly NZ-made brand with a unique feel to it, using mostly ethically-sourced materials.
"With a small budget it is hard to retain these factors, but it is something I pride myself on. And I am also proud that a lot of people acknowledge that it is something different to the New Zealand market and that there is room for growth, locally and internationally."
Apart from some help and support from friends and family, Slaeve is a one-man-brand. Crawford loves both designing and making clothing himself; figuring out patterns, finding the materials, cutting and sewing—it's all part of his creative process.
"I am the designer and creator, marketer and advertiser. I wish the team were bigger, but it's hard to find people willing to sacrifice for the brand."
Slaeve is currently stocked online at slaeve.net, but Crawford has plans to open his flagship store while looking for the right stores to stock his clothing range. As for further plans, he is aiming to launch a new collection by August, get sponsors on board and build up a small team. Besides, he would love to return to Fashion Week this year. "I was also invited to Vancouver Fashion Week earlier in the year, but couldn't make the funds. An international gig would be great for exposure."
Discover Slaeve on Instagram (instagram.com/slaeve) and Tumblr (slaeve.tumblr.com).