We spotted Lewis Crathern arriving at the MenStyleFashion HQ in Brighton with his red Volkswagen camper. It’s his first love for sure, because his whole life revolves around this Camper. Wherever Lewis goes he is taking his camper van with him. Lewis Crathern is a professional kitesurfer winning the British Championship 4 times. He has also consistently ranked in the top 20 of the world’s best kitesurfers. For all his success in kitesurfing tournaments, he really created massive media exposure by jumping over the Brighton pier in 2010. What impact did this technical stunt create in the world of kitesurfing, MenStyleFashion was keen to learn more from this 30-year-old.
Lewis was born in Worthing on the south coast of England where he still resides 30 years on. Being one of three brothers in the family, Lewis from a young age was very active in all sort of sports, from football to tennis, table tennis and almost every other imaginable sport he could get is hands and feet into. So much so he was the best at it from a school playground point of view. Sports is in his DNA and Lewis proves you can make a living out of what you love. Lewis no matter what explores and operates in extreme conditions. On a rainy day, you could find him at the local pool jumping on the diving board and doing all kinds of moves. At the age of 16, Lewis got into windsurfing and two years later he got introduced to kitesurfing. This was the end of 2003 and by 2005 he was British champion, in his own words it was his drive in all other sports that got him success so early.
Lewis explained that the dive board had taught him a lot about airtime, with the average airtime of diving being 1.5 seconds and that of kiteboarding being 6 seconds. Airtime is crucial to this sport and it’s why Lewis could jump over the piers of Worthing and Brighton. He explained to MSF that they were landmarks in his area that had never ever had any kiteboarder attempt such a challenge. He knew it was a matter of time that some kite surfer was going to do it one day. Who better to conquer the one-year preparation than Lewis himself.
Fashion Style – Casual
When we talked about fashion Lewis wanted to make it loud and clear. Fashion is all about him wearing practical clothes that he can move in. That is his first and most clear outline to any stylist out here.
On shoes: “If it is not comfortable and my shoes have no grip it does not belong in my wardrobe.”
Lewis is a typical kitesurfer and what he defines as casual, smart casual and a suit is completely different from our definitions. We asked Lewis to show us three outfits and his first outfit in which we conducted most of the interview was a t-shirt, shorts and trainers. As is common with a lot of professional sportsmen, Lewis is sponsored by Mystic a manufacturer of wetsuits and waterwear, which also has a range of lifestyle products. For his casual outfit, Lewis was wearing a T-shirt by Mystic. His shorts were a brown pair from Volcom all held up by a Dakine belt. Lewis personalised his belt with some zip ties. His underwear was from Mystic and Lewis proudly told us how quick drying they were and that he only needs two pairs. His shoes are a pair of skate shoes from Woolworths South Africa. He spends his winter months in Capetown, this shop is one of his favourites when buying clothes and shoes as we later found out.
His socks were the invisible style also from Woolworths South Africa, with interesting detail in the rubber lining at the ankle that prevents the socks from slipping. Up until now Lewis only walked around barefoot, but after falling in love with these socks there was no telling next the trend he has started here. Lewis also loves skateboard shoes and now with his socks, this is certainly a personal style anyone can aspire too. It’s that fast affordable fashion that defines Lewis’s lifestyle.
What was surprising to us was his lack of accessories, no watches, no rings, no bracelets and no necklaces. The only watch he wears is for when he is kitesurfing and it is a Suunto watch made specifically for this sport. As soon as he is finished the watch comes off again. Lewis also has no tattoos and this is what he had to say about this subject:
“No Tats is the new cool”
Fashion Style – Smart Casual
We asked Lewis to bring an outfit to show his smart casual look to meet his in-laws for the first time. And what he showed us was a knitted surf style jumper from Woolworths South Africa and a pair of jeans from the same store. When asked if this was his most smart look, he replied that his current girlfriend had forbidden him to wear hoodies to meet her parents. Shoe wise he was still wearing his skate style shoes, you never know there is always a moment to go on a skateboard.
What is also amazing about Lewis is his phone, he swears by his £20 Nokia candy bar phone. During his day he does not feel he needs to be connected to the world through the internet, his day time is about kitesurfing or on non-windy days any other sport. The phone represents his laid back attitude, he is not worried about it getting stolen, broken, getting wet or running out of battery life. When he is meeting friends with smartphones it is not “Hello how are you, but hello and do you have a USB charger for my phone”.
Lewis’s approach to buying clothes is something that is new to him. He was always given clothes from his sponsors in the past and only since a few months has he decided to go out and buy different clothes. He loves to buy clothes without big logos and he never buys clothes that are top brands, quality is more important than the brand. When it comes to shoes the first thing he does is turn them around and look at the grip. Whenever Lewis has a spare minute in his life he is on the skateboard so grip is important for him. When it comes to jeans, they need to be big enough so he can strike a ball, as he also loves to play football. Skinny jeans are out of the question here. He explains that his days are so random he wants to be able to go from one activity to another without changing clothes.
Fashion Style – Suit
One of our requests was for Lewis to bring along his suit. Now working in the world of fashion we certainly forgot that from a kite-surfing point of view, what one defines as a suit in fashion is not what Lewis would define as his daily suit within in his world. We laughed our heads off when seeing Lewis in a suit as he showed us a wet-suit. I asked where is your suit? He told us that this is the suit he wears and he has no other suits. When it comes to his wedding he would marry in this suit. We styled him with a denim blazer style jacket from G-star Raw and a leather fedora hat. With this outfit, we took him for a photoshoot to the Northern Lanes of Brighton and to the seafront to show us where he did his jump over the Brighton Pier. MSF loves to hear your thoughts of the combination of Lewis wet-suit attire. Will this be a style trending for weddings within water sports this 2015?
His Style and Icons
When it comes to choosing fashion Lewis feels he represents the modern man as he is connected to the world that lives today. He does this without looking at fashion magazines to find out the next perfect look. When it comes to style icons his only icon is Kelly Slater for being such a normal bloke with a very relaxed style. He does not like style icons like Christiano Ronaldo who keep drawing attention to themselves by wearing crazy boats or outfits, he much prefers Messi that gets attention by doing what he does best and that is playing good football. Although he is a bit disappointed by Messi’s latest tattoos.
When it comes to shaving Lewis loves to shave wet. In the past, he experienced with an electric Braun cruzer but wet shaving is what he prefers. He uses the Bic throw away razors with double blades and shaves once to twice a week only. As a moisturizer, he uses E45 dermatological moisturising lotion from Boots. Lewis explains he has not got a lot of facial hair growth to grow a full beard, he always had a goatee as long as he can remember, the moustache comes on and off depending on his mood.
When it comes to facial products, soaps and shampoos Lewis did not have any favourite brands, he literally tried everything. Lately, he has become more aware of the environmental impact and he now chooses mainly natural products. He puts this down to his current girlfriend that has made him more aware of his appearance. In the past, he would happily walk with bare feet around town but she has made him look more into his appearance and the grooming side of him.
We were surprised to hear that although he spends a lot of time in the sea that he only shampoos his hair twice a week. Lewis explained that the sea is a natural cleanser anyway so hence there is no need to use shampoos daily. His favourite Eau de Toilette is Diesel Plus Plus Masculine that comes in a white bottle. He likes that smell and has been using it for the last 10 years, he can’t be bothered changing it. When it comes to deodorants Lewis prefers the roll-on deodorant and not the sprays as these left him with burn marks in the past when spraying too close.
“The sea acts like a natural cleanser so there is no need to use shampoo every day.”
Changing hairstyles is something that is new to Lewis as he has had long blond sun-bleached hair for as long as he can remember. Only since a few months has he had a short hairstyle, he describes his sudden change in style to his girlfriend that has given him the confidence to change his hairstyle to short. When it came to this change he made sure he got on well with the hairdresser, he explained it as a trust relationship, when changing his hairstyle he had a good half an hour chat with the hairdresser about the change and how it would be done and how it would look. He was happy with the result.
“The blond longish hairstyle is a very stereotypical way of live in the surfing world, so to change it was a big challenge for me.”
Radio & TV Commenting
Having had huge media exposure from his pier jumps Lewis got offered work to do radio and TV coverage for events in kitesurfing and other sports. This is not only doing live coverage but also doing voice overs. Since a few years, Virgin has become a major sponsor in kitesurfing due to Richard Branson being an avid kitesurfer. This additional sponsorship money has to lead to more promotion and more broadcasting which Lewis has been very keen to do. He enjoys promoting his sport and loves to make time to anyone that wants to know a bit more about it or about him, he never makes you feel he is in a rush. When asked if the Radio & TV commenting would be his job for when he would retire he laughed and said DEFINITELY NOT. He explained that kitesurfing can be done competitively up to 50 years of age and he would kitesurf till he was 100.
“Too old for kitesurfing, my local beach in Lancing has a 79 year old kitesurfing every day.”
The Camper Van – The Love Of His Life
Another thing Lewis loves to do is teaching others about how to improve their kitesurfing skills. He does not teach beginners but teaches advanced kitesurfers on how to improve their jumps. This is all done out of his camper van, which he explains is the love of his life. We got a personal tour of his van, which he has owned for more than 10 years, as he shows us photos from a massive collage hanging in his van. He shows photos of the various conversions and all the places the van had been. Then he pulls out a big TV that he uses for his teachings while he makes his students coffee or tea on his stove. From the inside, we go to the back of his van where he shows where his gear, 2 kiteboards, 5 sails plus other bits are stored, unlike windsurfing it does not take up much space at all. He is so proud of his van and conversion that he can’t wait to take his kids, when they eventually come, on a trip. On a business point of view, you can clearly see Lewis does wear a suit to work, well a wetsuit at least.
Lewis’s relaxed personality makes him very approachable, this all shows up in his style that is very relaxed as well. Let us know in the comments below if you were inspired by Lewis’s style and grooming tips and also his outlook on life. His next big challenge is to be the world number one kitesurfer. In asking him why he has not achieved it yet.
On becoming number 1 in the world: “It’s simple I am mentally ready for it now. Watch this space.”