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Ozwald Boateng

A designer is born

When Ozwald Boateng burst into the male fashion scene in the late 80s men’s suit as we knew it was never the same again.

In those days well-cut bespoke suit came from the famous Savile Row tailors who dressed celebrities, royalty, Arab Sheiks….and were quintessentially British. Think James Bond with his sculpted suits. The most renowned deviation from this was Armani’s suits.

But Boateng changed the face of men’s fashion forever with his obsessive attention to the cut of the suit and his exploding colours of shirt, tie and suit.  Think of those Teal, burnt orange, burgundy, pink colours!

Ozwald Boateng design

Boateng dressed Will Smith, other Hollywood stars, the cast of the Matrix amongst numerous others and recently those of Black Panther.

Boateng’s start at a very early age was when he bought his first sewing machine after a girlfriend showed him how to sew. He later changed his study from computer science to fashion. By around the age of 29, he had his shop on Savile Row – the only black man I know to date to do so.

African Influence

Although materials like Ankara cloth and Kente are now commonly used for suits, Boateng stuck to traditional outfits but showcased his vibrant colours to the world.

He set the trend for young black African designers and those in the diaspora. He is proud of his strong African heritage and continues to evolve his style as he branches into women’s line with his latest theme of Africanism. “Now, I’ve reached a place where I’m more vocal [about race],” Boateng says in his interview with Refinery29. “My work has a strong African identity without being what you would expect”.

For me, what I would love most to have seen is for him to have black British male proteges who could claim his mentorship. Perhaps this is already happening, and I am just not aware.

However, men’s fashion has never been the same and Ozwald’s influence is still dominant. Although he is 52 years young, he is a ‘father and grandfather’ to up and coming designers and the established.

I am sure most of the colourful men’s suits in Africa Fashion Week London 2019 have paid homage to this great designer.

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2 years ago

Lovely – I enjoyed this write up

2 years ago

Very insightful!

2 years ago

Fantastic read