Meet The Person #34: Lex Cawley (Lecturer & Owner Field Denim Workshop)

Today episode #34 of the topic Meet the Person with Lex Cawley. This topic, Meet the Person, is about people with passion, an unique story, people in the (denim) industry. In Meet the Person I will give you an insight into their life; who are they, what are they doing, what makes them so special, where are they working on, and so on.

This new episode of Meet the Person is with Lex Cawley, Lecturer in Creative Pattern Cutting (London College of Fashion) and Denim Developer at Field Denim Workshop.

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Lex Cawley

  • Name: Lex Cawley.
  • Living in village & country: London, UK.
  • Age: 39 years.
  • Instagram ID: @Field_Denim_Workshop
  • Number of Instagram followers: 2000+
  • Website: www.fielddenim.com (under development).
  • Daily work: Lecturer in Creative Pattern Cutting (at London College of Fashion) and Denim Developer at Field Denim Workshop.

Can you introduce yourself (who are you and what are you doing):

My name is Alexis Cawley, I live in London cutting and I run Field Denim Workshop. My creative background is 15 years working in the fashion industry as a womenswear designer and creative pattern cutter. Currently my main source of income is as a Lecturer in Creative Pattern Cutting at London College of Fashion.

How did you entered the denim industry:

I wouldn’t really describe myself as being part of the denim industry. I started Field Denim Workshop about seven years ago because I had started to become disillusioned with the fashion industry. I was bored of working for designers who were more concerned with making clothes for celebrities rather than real people. This was around the time that I bought my first pair of raw’s and subsequently how I got sucked into the world of raw denim.

Because I had been trained in dressmaking I decided to try to make a pair of jeans (how hard can it be I thought!). The first pair were okay however they were made on a flatbed machine, so the sewing was slightly scrappy. In a bid to improve them I put in a low bid on a vintage bartack machine on eBay (and won!). It all escalated from there. At one point I had three sewing machines in my living room, one in the hallway and one in my bedroom. Eventually I had to get a studio. I currently have a small studio in South East London with eight industrial sewing machines (at 135 Sq feet, I believe probably the smallest denim factory in the world).

Just at the point where the studio was production ready I got offered a full time job lecturing at London College of Fashion. I couldn’t turn an opportunity to teach at LCF down so Field Denim became a side project. These days rather than do my own work I mostly use the studio for denim development and sampling for other brands.

What are you doing at the moment:

At the moment I am also doing an MA in Academic Practice at LCF (I like to keep myself busy). That means other than small mending projects I’m not taking on any commercial projects. The focus of the MA is denim education so I’m currently using the studio as a space to develop educational workshops. These workshops will be based around the analysis and interpretation of historic details and construction methods.

Where are you the most proud of so far as it comes to your work:

I’m particularly proud of the work I did with Toogood. I consulted with them on their voyage into denim and made their pre-production samples. As part of this project I was lucky to be one of the first people to sew with Hewett Heritage Fabrics. Their jeans are currently being sold in Dover Street Market which is pretty cool. You can see the work at https://t-o-o-g-o-o-d.com/008

(Source: Toogood.com)

What’s the biggest denim trend(s) right now in your opinion:

Despite my background in fashion and womenswear I have never really kept up with trends. Perhaps ‘trend’ isn’t the correct term but the most important thing happening in denim (and fashion in general) at the moment is sustaiability. As consumers have become savvier about environmental issues brands are going to have to have to change their practices to survive.

And what would be the next denim trend:

Sustainability is the future of denim…

What’s your favourite denim brand(s):

A friend of mine Tom has started launched a cool brand recently called United Overalls. They are 100% made in the UK Jeans (woven in Lancashire, sewn in London). Another brand that is doing some really exciting things is Blackhorse Lane Atelier (read the story of the founder here). The quality of their construction is far better than any other brand I have come across. It’s also great to see manufacturing being bought back to London. I don’t but that many clothes as I try to make them, but I do like Pure Blue Japan and UES.

Where is your inspiration coming from:

Because of my background as a creative pattern cutter, my work is always process lead. By that I mean the ideas start from cut and construction. I’ve recently discovered google patent which has a wealth of interesting historical construction ideas.

What’s your favourite denim item in your closet and why:

I have a small archive of vintage pieces, some of my favourites include:

  • US Navy Deck Pants

  • 1950’s ‘Le Remouleur’ French Chore Trousers

  • 1960’s Big Smith ‘Buckeroo’ Type Two Denim Jacket

  • 1960’s Sears Selvedge Denim Apron.

What’s your favourite denim fit:

I don’t particularly have a favourite fit. I tend to make myself looser cuts purely because they are more comfortable cycling.

What’s your favourite denim city:

I’m bias but I’d have to day London. There is a fledgling scene here with a lot of interesting stuff is happening (also I’ve never had a chance to explore other cities known for denim).

Who’s your favourite denim designer:

I think Nigel Cabourn does some particularly interesting things with denim and workwear at the moment.

What do you think it’s the best invention in the denim industry:

I love single piece fly construction, it is such a clean way to finish a pair of jeans. It is especially amazing as it was invented in 1887, if you search google patents you can still find the original patent.

Who’s your denim hero & why:

I’ve met Mohsin Sahid (read his story here) a few times. In the world of denim he is by far the most knowledgeable person I’ve met. He is also really willing to share his knowledge and help as many people as possible which is really cool. Generally in fashion people are really secretive about their skills/knowledge, it is a breath of fresh air to meet someone so positive about open educational practices.

What’s your favourite denim store:

I love Rivet and Hide in London, in my opinion they have the best selection of raw denim in London. For vintage denim Cheshire Street in East London has some great stores, The House of Vintage, Levisons, and Hang Up Vintage.

What are your ultimate denim accessories:

I really like boots, I have a few pairs. Red Wings, Chippewa and DM’s are some of my favourites.

What’s your favourite inspiration quote:

I don’t know if inspirational is the word but I have this on the wall of my studio to remind myself to get my arse into gear! (Apologies for the language).

(Source: Goodfuckingdesignadvise.com)

Who do you love to see in the next Meet the Person:

If you’ve not had Mohsin on here I’d recommend him. Also, a couple of my denim friends are doing some interesting things, @illcutz or @unitedoverallsco.

Read the previous episodes of Meet the Person;

Meet the Person #1: Amy Leverton (Denim Dudes): here.

Meet the Person #2: Jacques Grosz (Kiliwatch store Paris): here.

Meet the Person #3: Guido Biondi (Roy Roger’s): here.

Meet the Person #4: Gerold Brenner (Designer, Trendforecaster): here.

Meet the Person #5: Leon Blok (Designer, tailor maker): here.

Meet the Person #6: Guido Kerssens (AMFI Amsterdam): here.

Meet the Person #7: James Veenhoff (Denim City, Jean School, Fronteer): here

Meet the Person #8: Moritz Fuchs (New Heritage Festival): here

Meet the Person #9: Christine Rucci (Godmother NYC): here

Meet the Person #10: Sean Gormley (Creative Director Wrangler E.M.E.A.): here.

Meet the Person #11: Piero Turk (Denim Designer): here.

Meet the Person #12: Peter Kats (Vice President Lee Jeans E.M.E.A.): here.

Meet the Person #13: Han Ates (founder of Blackhorse Lane Ateliers): here.

Meet the Person #14: Ben Viapiana (Bespoke Denim Tailor): here.

Meet the Person #15: Tony Tonnaer (founder Kings of Indigo): here.

Meet the Person #16: Maggy Tuijp (Denim Development at DENHAM the Jeanmaker): here.

Meet the Person #17: Nick Williams (Graphic Designer): here.

Meet the Person #18: Koen Tossijn: here.

Meet the Person #19: Sinem Celik (Denim Consultant): here.

Meet the Person #20: Stefano Angelico (Braves And Company): here.

Meet the Person #21: Simona Testucci (Peppino Peppino): here.

Meet the Person #22: Silvia Rancani (The Denim Window): here.

Meet the Person #23: Michael Kampe (Creative Director Lee Jeans): here.

Meet the Person #24: Iu Franquesa (Companion Denim): here.

Meet the Person #25: Haman Alimardani (Hamansutra): here.

Meet the Person #26: Kelly Harrington (Designer & Trend Forecaster): here.

Meet the Person #27: Marta Cellini (Designer & Fashion Consultant): here.

Meet the Person #28: Özgür Polat (Product Manager Amsterdenim): here.

Meet the Person #29: Emilie Casiez (Nigel Cabourn Woman Designer): here.

Meet the Person #30: Alessio Berto (Pattern Designer): here.

Meet The Person #31: Andrea Rosso (Creative Director Diesel License, Founder Of MYAR) here.

Meet The Person #32: Barry Emanuel (President Copen United) here.

Meet the Person #33: Simon James Cathcart (Founder at SJC London Ltd) here.

Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine I'm working as a freelance marketing specialist for brands and retail. Specialized in denim. Nominated as 'Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50.