Designing for performance, an interview with sportswear designer Ismini Krassismenou
Ismini Krassismenou is a performance designer and graduate from the London College of Fashion (LCF) in Active Sportswear. Since her graduation, she has worked alongside Olympic athletes including Dwain Chambers and Rikki Fifton, assisted Skepta on his bucket hat collection and is currently designing for UK and European football clubs. So we thought it was time to interview this thriving sportswear designer and ask her about her most rewarding moments, future plans as well as the people she looks up to.
Who is a typical customer?
I have different types of customers depending on which job I am doing:
London College of Fashion – Lecturer – At uni I teach specialist skills and CADS to BA (hons) degree’s in product design… BA (hons) in Sportswear/Contour and FDD. I also teach on an integrated masters course in International Fashion Production Management.
Rapha Racing Ltd. – Product Designer – At Rapha [cycling brand] I am in charge or all Pro Team’s Kit Design/identity, I also work on Quick Strike Products so for Cycling Events and am now in charge of all RCC Member’s Kit [So RCC = Rapha cycling club]
Platinum Sourcing Ltd. – CO-Owner/Art Director & Design – I co-own my own design sourcing and manufacturing business. Our first aim is to help start up brands with design and production outside of the UK. After graduating I found it really hard to reproduce my collection thru manufacturers in the far east, so my main priority is to help other like me to get lower MOQ’s, quick Lead times and great quality and prices without getting bumped. We also help existing brands to challenge there current manufacturers and get better quality/prices & MOQ’s etc.
Freelance – Designer – I tend to do a lot of freelance design work mainly in urban wear and sportswear. I design sportswear for all types of sports, athletics, football, gym, yoga, women’s fitness, men’s muscle fit, and then I also do Urban wear, so I have previously done work for Fresh Ego Kid, Christian Rose, 11 Degrees etc.
What is one of your favorite pieces that you’ve designed and why?
I don’t have one particular favorite piece. I loved making my own graduate collection for sprinters prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics. I did a Brazilian-inspired collection.
From work I would say I really enjoyed being apart of the team who designed and developed the new Canyon Sram Cycling Team Kit for 2018. [soon to be released]
How do you integrate both style and performance into your clothes without compromising on one?
When I design performance is the number one factor and then design and aesthetics come after. The performance of a garment is so important in sportswear as this is what the client is paying for… the best innovation and technologies/fabrics. You can always make something look pretty after
How has your experience of being a professional athlete helped to design sportswear pieces?
Being involved in sports has really helped when designing as I always have performance in the back on my head. Knowing the body and how it moves really helps with seam placements and the fit of garments.
What made you decide to pursue a degree in fashion, as opposed to sports?
Growing up I wanted to be a footballer I went to a football academy/college for 2 years and left and did personal training and sports massage therapy. I use to struggle to find clothing to fit me, so I decided to combine [PE and ART] the two subjects I was good at in school and pursue designing sportswear. Then I got into LCF and although I didn’t fit into the fashion world I loved creating clothing and being hands on.
You are currently a visiting professor at the London College of Fashion for the Fashion Sportswear course. Only a few years ago, you were still a student there yourself. How is it being on the other side of the classroom?
I love teaching. If I could teach every day I would. Being a lecturer to people who were in my position is so rewarding. I love that I am able to give first hand knowledge and industry experience to the future talent of sportswear design [something I didn’t have when I was on the course as it was a new course] I feel like being a young lecturer who has been there I can understand better what the students need and hopefully help them more than other classes
Is there a person whose career you particularly admire? (can be of any industry, not necessarily fashion).
Claudine Rousseau – My final year tutor at uni/boss at London college of fashion. She is definatley one of my roll models and I am so honoured to be able to learn and work with her. She is an amazing pattern cutter, working with sportswear and stretch fabrics is not easy but she is a genius when it comes to it. One day I want to be as good and well respected as she is in this industry.
What has been the most rewarding moment in your career so far?
Been a few… first one would be finishing uni and winning the off catwalk award.
And then probably all the great feedback I get from uni students saying how much ive helped them and that they want more classes with me, that is such a great feeling when u get an email like that.
If any athlete could wear your clothes, who would you want it to be and why?
David Beckham, because he is such a sports legend.
Kelly Holmes, because she was a roll model growing up, even tho she doesn’t do sports anymore.
Messi, because he is a current football legend.
What can we expect from Ismini in the next 5 to 10 years?
My own sportswear brand!
Want to find out more about Ismini Krassismenou? Check out her Ocotur.