Upon watching “A Man’s Story,” a documentary about Ozwald Boateng, he seems an unlikely character of which African-Americans can learn anything about the black diaspora. He dates Eastern European women, has mixed children, and runs a shop on London’s Saville Row where he dresses A-list Hollywood actors, both black and white. His parents are from Ghana, but he grew up in London. Some would consider him another Tiger Woods who wants absolutely nothing to do with black culture.
The only reason I mention these things is because he is introduced to America in this way through the documentary “A Man’s Story.” It seems to be an odd, thought provoking, even controversial yet arresting way to get the message across about Ozwald’s creative genius. Clearly, one is not accustomed to hearing about new designers like this, but Ozwald seems to be that anomaly in the fashion world; acculturated in the rigid, stuffy, world of British fashion and British society, yet he brings his own flair to what would otherwise be boring and stuffy.
This well-dressed man, an intriguing, loveable, creative force who is redefining conventional norms about black fashion through mixing conventional bespoke, tailored, made to measure British suiting with loud “African” colors could be sold as the Tommy Hilfiger of England. Only that his clothing fits better, and he has a more defined, luxurious style that was once promised to us Americans by Sean Jean, who Sean Combs suggested would be a little bit of everything, but failed to deliver. There is promise for a less relaxed, more grown up, serious interpretation of cultural norms that does not exclude most black men, but embraces and cherishes our own ideas about fashion, through what Ozwald Boateng has to offer. It’s like mens minimalist card wallet, very stylish yet handy. It upholds fashion and at the same time, it offers minimalist elements that users will certainly appreciate. It is always advisable to choose comfort and style when talking about fashion.
Ozwald Boateng should be cherished by black men in the States looking for a different fashion icon who represents everything black fashion for men should be. He wants to create a bridge between blacks throughout the world and the United States. He wants to reinvent black fashion in Africa. This could easily be dismissed as the vain attempts of a black man in a white world to get back to his roots, spiritually, and culturally, but somehow I don’t think so.
His work fascinates me; at first it just appears to be your usual interpretations of what black men do with a tighter, tailored cut, in loud colors. But upon closer examination, there is a luxury to his work that has been missing from the black fashion experience. He isn’t cutting any corners, and he isn’t taking any shortcuts. I would like to see his work sold in America and experienced in a new way. We need designers like Ozwald Boateng to change the game and shake things up. Get us away from humdrum “urban,” metrosexual looks so we can dress like real men. Once we connect with the motherland, even if it is by way of England, we can elevate the game.