Ozwald Boateng is a British menswear designer of Ghanian origin who has redefined British tailor-made menswear with vibrant color combinations and modern slim silhouettes. He is a visionary who follows his passion and achieves his goals.
His achievements are many: he was the first tailor to showcase his collection at Paris Fashion Week in 1994; he was the first menswear designer with an African origin to open a boutique on Savile Row (London's prestigious district known for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men) in 1995; he was appointed Creative Director for LVMH's Givenchy brand from 2004 to 2007; and he also received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II for "An Outstanding Contribution to the Clothing Industry" in 2006.
Having achieved a successful career in European fashion, Ozwald now has a larger vision beyond fashion and more focused on the continent of his origin, Africa. In 2011, Ozwald founded Made In Africa Foundation in collaboration with Kola Aluko, a Nigerian energy tycoon, and Atlantic Energy, a Nigerian energy company. The foundation's mission is "to fund Masterplans, Feasibility Studies and other project preparation works for successful infrastructure projects in Africa" (from the foundation's website).
In an NPR interview, Ozwald explained his passion and rationale behind his new project: "[O]ne of the issues of unlocking those potentials (of natural resources) is no one's ready to put the first dollar into the feasibility plan or the master planning of any project, be it an urban development, road or rail. [...] [W]e believe that raising $400 million to be spent on master planning and feasibility studies for infrastructure will create $100 billion of projects across the continent. And that will effectively create about a trillion dollars of value, and that will add another 2 percent of GDP onto the continent and lift about 200 million people out of poverty."
But how did a fashion designer get into the infrastructure business? His answer is quite simple: he simply wants to open his stores on the African continent. His passion for fashion and Africa is driving him to work on much larger-scale projects, and he has the capacity and connections to make things happen.
Every designer has a creative vision. But we love that many designers with African origins have a vision beyond designs and fashion. Like Ozwald, some designers want to contribute to the economic growth of the African continent. Others want to create something that uniquely represents their cultural origins. At Maki & Mpho, we want to be a platform where people can experience a taste of new Africa, and we are committed to delivering a delightful surprise. Stay tuned!
To learn more about Ozwald's vision, check out Bloomberg Africa's documentary.