LONDON — Move over, Tom Ford, Ozwald Boateng has his sights set on becoming a global men’s luxury brand too.
Earlier this month, the designer unveiled a 6,500-square-foot flagship on London’s Savile Row, in the former Anderson & Sheppard space. He has plans for another 30 international stores—mostly franchises—over the next three years.
Boateng, who left as a consultant to Givenchy men’s wear in August, has forged a partnership with UAE-based Al Tayer Group for six stores, the first of which recently opened as a concession in Harvey Nichols Dubai. There are additional franchises in the works for India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and northern England, and he is also planning a second stand-alone store in London.
Another major priority for Boateng is the U.S. The designer—who has already starred in the American reality TV show House of Boateng—said he’s looking for a partner there to open a series of stores.
Boateng currently owns 100 percent of his business, and his annual sales are 10 million pounds, or $20.3 million. With the new retail additions, he said he expects sales to double annually in the “foreseeable” future. He declined to be more specific.
His costs, too, are mounting. The flagship, which also incorporates showrooms, tailors’ workshops and corporate offices, cost “seven figures,” he said.
The focus of Boateng’s expansion plan will be the Savile Row store, which he said will showcase the brand’s concept and highlight the role of Savile Row itself as a mecca for luxury men’s wear.
“It’s lifted the whole experience of Savile Row. I’m really excited about what this shop does,” said Boateng, not known for his modesty. “I’m trying to create a whole new way of shopping for men.”
The flagship’s interiors are sleek and linear, and boast a mixture of textures and colors: black lacquer walls, glass cabinets, purple paint in the accessories room, gray slate floors and moody, atmospheric lighting that recalls a nightclub.
“I love the simplicity of it and the colors. It’s sexy and luxurious. This is a true marriage of everything I would consider to be me, in a [retail] environment,” said Boateng, who designed the interiors in collaboration with the London architect David Adjaye.
The store is divided into four environments: accessories, rtw, bespoke and a space for exhibiting art. Boateng said this would be the template for all future Ozwald Boateng stores.
The rtw collection is housed in a wide, dark wood corridor. Boateng said it was designed to feel like a runway, with mirrors running along one wall and suits displayed on the other wall.
The bespoke room is a large enclosed lounge, with sliding full-height mirror doors, and leads to an infinity mirror-box fitting room.
“It gives you an infinite view of yourself and the suit,” said Boateng, adding that in addition to full bespoke and adapt-to-fit bespoke suits, there will also be bespoke footwear, accessories and fabrics available.
The art gallery is painted white, and devoted to works by key artists such as Chris Ofili, a friend of Boateng’s and regular collaborator of Adjaye’s.
Boateng said the space would regularly host exhibitions and art projects. “We are on Old Burlington Street and right next to Cork Street, which are both known for their art galleries. I wanted to emphasize the synergy between bespoke and art, and connect the two,” said Boateng.
Prices run from 800 pounds, or $1,631, for a rtw suit, to 2,000 pounds, or $4,079, for an adapt-to-fit bespoke, all the way up to 4,000 pounds, or $8,158, and up for a fully bespoke suit. Accessories run from 80 pounds, or $163, for cufflinks to 500 pounds, or $1,019, for a bag. The store also sells Boateng’s women’s fragrance, Parfum Bespoke, which is priced at roughly 60 pounds, or $122. Next year, Boateng said he would add a men’s counterpart.
His outlook for the future?
“I am excited about men’s wear becoming as big a luxury market as women’s. It’s really the time for men’s fashion, and it’s only getting more exciting. Savile Row is the most famous street in the world for tailors. Tradition has to evolve to survive,” said Boateng.
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