Waraire Boswell: An Unlikely Designer

At 6ft 7in Waraire Boswell is an unlikely designer. As a youngster, he was focused on Basketball and flirting with girls. But, he experienced a radical change that eventually steered him from Basketball to fashion.

'When I was growing up I was a regular height and could shop anywhere until I got to the start of the 10th grade going to the 11th grade. I went from being 5ft 5.5in to 6ft 5in when I returned for my 11th grade year.' says Boswell.

This growth spurt created problems, especially for a self proclaimed 'ambassador of style'.  Boswell could not find clothes to fit his tall athletic frame as the clothes he found were either too short or too boxy.

As Boswell struggled with finding clothes that fit, his love for Basketball diminished. 'After I graduated from high school, I still had ball aspirations and I was still playing Basketball. But, there comes a point in every athlete's career where you say, 'Do I want to take it to the next level; that is the pros?' For me, it was crystal clear I wasn't going to because I didn't have the love for it anymore' he says.

Thereafter, Boswell obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Northridge but spent his post university years drifting from one job to another. He felt the tug in his heart to pursue fashion, but lacked the courage. Luckily for him, courage came in the form of his sister's encouraging words to, 'find something that [h]e enjoys doing and that [h]e can get paid at.' He found fashion.

Nevertheless, he created his first pair of pants out of necessity and without any fashion design experience or financial resources. 'That was the first thing I ever made and they were for me because I couldn't find clothes to wear' he says.

In 1998, this unlikely designer officially launched his lifestyle driven line identified by the initials of his name, The wb-collection. Over the years, the line has evolved and is very refined. Also, instead of clothing for only tall men, it now targets men with height ranging from 5ft 5in to 6ft 11in tall; as Boswell believes his customers, regardless of height, should be able to shop side by side in the boutiques that carry his line.

The designer's selection of quality fabrics, great attention to details and personalization via his custom creations has garnered huge interest from the general public, media and celebrities, particularly because quality menswear is like a rare gem. His designs fill the void in menswear after you exclude clothes that only suit the rawness of the streets or the casualness of sports. According to Boswell, what sets him apart is his motto that, 'Less is more'.

For the man that wears his clothing, he says you'll, for example, 'notice little things like the zipper in the placket section, collar stand with the hook and eye on it or the slits on the side of the shirt which enables you to wear it in or out.'

Indeed, men from all walks of life are taking notice. For example, celebrity athletes, actors and musicians such as John Sally, Boris Kodjoe, Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo Di Caprio, Jamie Foxx,  Mekhi Phifer, Usher, Andre 3000 and Mos Def wear his designs. Also, his designs have appeared in popular magazines such as Men's Health, Inside, Ebony, Flaunt, Complex, V Life and so forth.

As to what the future holds for this unlikely designer, he says, 'ultimately I want a brand like Ralph Lauren. He sells you a lifestyle. He sells you Kentucky, Connecticut, The Hamptons. That's what I'll have the brand, Boswell, be.'

Currently and nationally, he prepares to launch a watch line under his label and is also in the process of obtaining "preferred status" as a dresser for the National Basketball Association [NBA] players; since the NBA now mandates that NBA players wear suits prior to competitions. He also prepares to launch his flagship store in L.A.'s Beverly Hills/Brentwood.  On a global level, he is working on expansion and cultivating an international presence.

Not bad for an unlikely 6ft 5in designer with no fashion education and money. All you fashion loving people, keep your fashion vision on Waraire Boswell!

The wb-collection can be found online at www.wb-collection.com. In L.A. or surrounding areas, visit the following fine boutiques: Lisa Klein, Fred Segal Street, Wolf, H. Lorenzo and Satine. New Yorkers, visit 'Pieces' located at 671 Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn, 718-857-7211 or contact the designer directly for custom one-of-a kind pieces.

Photos by Bill Uechi, fobgraphics.com

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