“The idea of an ill-fitting suit is something I cannot register. If I register it once then it goes off and destroys! It starts interfering with the mainframe of my computer. It’s like dust in the lens – you grow accustomed to the dust and it starts building up.”
– Ozwald Boateng
If there ever was a style icon in the world of bespoke tailoring, his name is Ozwald Boateng.
Starting off with lofty ambitions to one day own his own shop on Savile Row, Ozwald Boateng went on to not only achieve that very goal at the young age of 23, but completely changed the game with his modern twist on classic British tailoring. He is a true pioneer of luxury suiting. By fusing the idea of “the tailor” and “designer” into one, Boateng introduced the concept of “bespoke couture” to menswear. Savile Rowe had always been a sartorial culture steeped in tradition but with his slimmer fits and dashing colors and patterns, Boateng’s creations were a breath of fresh, contemporary air.
Boateng is a bit of a larger-than-life figure. His striking model features are only amplified by his cool demeanor and superlative swagger. As an individual, Boateng is the perfect representation of his clothing and vice versa…no one wears his own suits better than he does. Boateng represents the epitome of a man who uses style as a means of individual expression.He is confident, deliberate and as crisp as they come; a man whose ambitions are as high as the perfectly cut notches of his signature lapels.
But as it goes for all men of ambition, there was a period of tribulation for the “King of Savile Row”; not everything was always as smooth as his confidence may communicate. While his meteoric rise to Savile Row made him a prodigy of sorts—the youngest to ever open a shop on the legendary street in London—it was matched by an equally accelerated crash.His documentary, “A Man’s Story” reveals this private story of turmoil, his struggle with bankruptcy, a dramatic divorce and a disastrous fashion show in Paris.
“At that point I hadn’t actually experienced anything going wrong. Everything I’d put my hand to worked. So when it went wrong, I thought, well, I’ll start again really quickly. And then I had the shock of the experience of it not being that easy. And actually, if I’d known it was going to be that difficult, I’d probably have done something else. Cos it was hard. Really hard. I couldn’t get money from the bank, even getting a bank account was really, really hard. I’d assumed I’d get support from the industry, and when I didn’t get it, it was a real wake-up.”
Watch a preview of his documentary, “A Man’s Story,” here:
Of course, we would not consider Boateng’s story a story of inspiration if it ended there. Boateng not only manages to save his business from bankruptcy and overcome the turmoil in his personal life, he rises to establish his brand with loftier ambitions than before. Now more inspired than ever, re-married with two children and with his sights on opening a brand new series of shops in America, Boateng says he’s “just getting started.”
Ozwald Boateng is the prime example of the Black Lapel Man—one who leads through innovation, won’t accept failure, all the while maintaining the utmost sartorial swagger.
Style is personal and it’s a reflection of who you are in the current.
– Ozwald Boateng
So dress well and be great, even when all the odds are against you.