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Interview: Ozwald Boateng for City Index, Celebrity Trader Campaign


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He’s one of the fashion world’s most talented tailors, but how will Ozwald Boateng fare when it comes to trading on the stock exchange in City Index’s Celebrity Trader Campaign?

City Index is challenging a different celebrity each month to take on the task of trading on the financial markets. The celeb traders must speculate on price levels across major global markets to try to net a profit - and avoid losing face with their fellow celebrities!

Each celebrity receives an initial balance of £2,500 in their account, and attempts to raise money for their charity of choice. With a hugely diverse range of competitors – including Mark Foster, Michel Roux Jr, Tim Vine and Deborah Meaden – taking part along with Ozwald, it’s hard to guess who’ll come out on top!

We caught up with Ozwald ahead of his turn as a trader to find out a bit more about his approach to the challenge, his inspirations and – of course – his expert advice on style and carving a career in the fashion industry.

Can you tell us a bit about the charity that you have chosen to raise funds for with the Celebrity Trader Campaign?

I’ve chosen to support CLIC Sargent, which is a charity that supports children with cancer, as it is something a lot of people are affected by. I’ve experienced, personally, friends or fathers of friends going through this, and I’d like to help raise some money for this amazing cause.

You are known for your skills and precision when it comes to tailoring, but do you have any skills that you think will help when it comes to trading on the stock market?

I suppose, when you’re making a suit for an individual, the first thing that you have to do is visually measure them. So, I guess the relationship I could build between that and stock is that I think you have a good gauge and understanding of what you want to buy, and if you can improve on the price once you’ve purchased it. In a way I think there is a relationship, but I also think it’s quite an instinctive exercise too; I don’t think there is ever a time when there is a sure thing. But I will definitely be applying my distinctive approach and knowledge to this project.

Is there anything you think or hope that you will learn during this project that will be of use for your business in fashion?

Because this is the first time I’ve ever done it, there is always something new that I’ll learn! I’m sure there will be something I learn that I will be able to build into my life.

You studied computer science at college before being introduced to design - could you ever see yourself going into this field, or another profession, besides fashion in the future?

Well that’s interesting, because I thought computer programming would be the future, that’s why I first started in computers. I do have a strong interest in other films; I like to direct films and I have been making short films for many years, so this is an extension to my creativity as a designer. I have a foundation I set up called Made in Africa, and we are very involved in a lot of infrastructure projects across Africa. There are other interests I have that I am doing alongside designing as well.

Could you describe your personal typical design process; how do you get your designs from the sketchpad to the runway? Do you have any go-to areas for inspiration?

For me, creativity is based on how I feel, so that’s an ever-changing position. I’m inspired by everything from going to the cinema, seeing an artist at a museum, even watching a child play – I could be inspired by anything. There is no set form. If there is any particular place where I find real connectivity that would be yoga; I’ve been doing it for about three years, usually after doing a session of yoga I have some of my best ideas. If I was trying to connect a particular moment in time to a great idea, it has definitely come to me during yoga.

What are your personal rules when it comes to dressing, either for formal or casual wear? Are there any definite things you think should or should not be worn together?

That’s about style; how you dress yourself is definitely about your personal style. Some people are more confident with their personal style than others, but what does that really mean? It’s about enjoying the clothes you wear, and understanding what you enjoy wearing. Clothing should be an enhancement of the person wearing the clothing and give them a great amount of pleasure. That’s how I understand style.

My personal style is obviously based around tailoring; I’ve always had a love of tailoring, as I was brought up with that. I like the silhouette of the suit that is well cut, and a hard collar shirt that sits well under the lapel of the jacket, that’s all very key to me. A tie that’s got a decent knot, opposed to one that’s not so good. Those elements are key to me. I like to create a rhythm within the collar of fabrics I use.

Lastly, what would your advice be for any students that aspire to a career in fashion design, particularly in tailoring?

The most important ingredient in fashion is to have a point of view; once you have this, you need a strong concept. The concept is based on what drives you as a designer. The most important thing, I’d say, is to have very clear concepts of what you want to represent as a designer and you have to stick to it, even if others think it’s not right. There is a thing in fashion where, at some point, you’re not understood, but it’s your belief and commitment which ultimately will allow people to understand what you’ve created and enjoy it.

Follow Ozwald’s progress in the Celebrity Trader Campaign here.

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