Boateng, whose parents emigrated from Ghana in the 1950s, was born in 1967 in Muswell Hill, North London. He attended Highgate Wood secondary school. In London his father continued his career as a teacher, while his mother who was in the fabric trade in Ghana became a seamstress. His parents divorced when he was five.
Boateng was inspired by the immaculate suits his father wore, and received his first suit from his mother aged eight: a double-breasted in purple mohair. At fourteen, he found a summer job sewing linings into suits
While studying computing at Southgate College aged 16, he was introduced to cutting and designing by his girlfriend. Using his mother’s old sewing machine, he started designing and selling to his fellow students, and switched to graduate in fashion and design.
Boateng helped a friend to make clothes for a fashion show, and after receiving praise for his work, sold his first collection to a menswear shop in Covent Garden. Some of his first pieces were also sold in Academy, Newburgh St. C1987 This enabled him to open his first studio
Mentored by Tommy Nutter, the success of the Paris show in 1994 enabled Boateng to open his boutique on Vigo Street, the south end of Savile Row, in 1995.
Boateng’s contemporary approach to menswear design helped to forge a new appreciation for Savile Row, and draw in a younger demographic. Boateng’s moved fully into Savile Row in June 2002, with London MayorKen Livingstone crediting Boateng with making a vital contribution to the promotion of creative talents in the capital.
In 2005, Boateng was honored with a major 20 year retrospective event at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition recognized that Boateng had by combining the highest standards of execution with a fresh, vibrant design philosophy, successfully captured the imagination of both the media and the public.
In 2008 Ozwald Boateng’s new flagship store and headquarters are launched at No. 30 Savile Row, on the corner of Savile Row and Clifford Street. The signage and interiors were co-designed with British-Ghanaian Architect David Adjaye. Boateng commented: “The fact that I am now in the old Anderson and Sheppard store means a lot to me. Before I even opened my store on Vigo Street, I never dreamed that I would have my own flagship store in place of tailors that represent the cornerstone of British Tailoring and Savile Row.”
In 2003, Boateng launched an original concept in fragrances for women. Bespoke comprises two different vials of fragrance within an elongated, jewel-like bottle. Developed with the whole essence of “bespoke” in mind, women have the option of wearing each fragrance separately, or adopting the “bespoke” approach by layering and mixing the two synergistic fragrances together in differing proportions, to create an infinite variety of fragrances to suit their mood and personality.
In 2007, Boateng merged the corporate headquarters of his company with his redesigned flagship store on Savile Row. Today, in addition to a bespoke service, Boateng also produces two ready-to-wear collections a year,produced at the former Chester Barrie factory in Crewe, Cheshire.
In 2004, Coutts approached Boateng to design a new Super-Premium credit card. The Coutts ‘World Credit Card’ appears in Boateng’s trademark imperial purple, designed to communicate a new modernity and supreme elegance.
In 2004, Boateng designed new amenity kits for Virgin Atlantic‘s Upper Class. Critically claimed to be the most stylish first class kits available to travelers on any airline, the design increased pick rate fivefold.
2007 African Union summit
Boateng was commissioned by John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana, to design and orchestrate a show at the 9th Annual African Union summit in 2007. Held in Accra, it coincided with 200 years since the cessation of the transatlantic slave trade, and 50 years of independence for Ghana.