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Off the Cuff

Photos by Larry Hirschowitz

Waraire Boswell has had an affinity for fine clothing since his teenage years, though he spent more time thinking about babes and basketball than the manufacturing process of a French cuff. Born and raised in Altadena, Boswell bounced from African-history studies — he planned on being a teacher — to trying his hand in the music and entertainment industries. But regardless of where he was employed, he faced the same dilemma — locating clothes to fit his lean 6-foot-7 frame. Either the length was too short or an XXL shirt was long enough but fit boxy.

At the suggestion of his girlfriend at the time, Boswell decided to create the apparel he couldn’t find. While he’d never been behind a sewing machine and had no idea where to begin with a pattern, he did know one thing: Less supply means more demand. That simple fact, combined with a strong personal sense of style, fueled his foray into fashion.

"I just started making stuff for myself," he says. "We live in a world of professionals. There are patternmakers who are professionals — I outsource that. But with designing, once I started to put my mind to it, it was a domino effect." Soon the first two pairs of wool slacks he conceived developed into his debut line.

Now two years — and countless lessons of trial and error— later, Boswell has refined the focus of his collection. He still produces garments for the high pockets, but his signature line also includes designs for those more moderate in height. Denim jeans and jackets are constructed with patterned fabric that’s exposed when cuffed or rolled up, so that 5-foot-5 and 6-foot-5 customers can shop side by side. He addresses what guys really need outside the realm of street- and sportswear, with clothes that have the assured elegance of made-to-measure classics while at the same time reflecting a contemporary edge. These are threads for the new gentleman.

Boswell’s standout items are his suits and oxford shirts. The suits are professionally tailored with immaculate cuts and a touch of whimsy: a terrier logo embellished on the back jacket panel, the words gauche and droite stitched over the pockets of the slacks. His patterned button-downs are reinterpretations of the traditional dress shirt. Pinstripes get punched up with a subtle touch of gingham beneath the collar; plaids have barely visible iconography such as a pointing index finger or a hand-stitched slogan such as "Preter Attention au Detail."

A cast of high-profile peeps have taken note of — and taken home his work, and he was one of 12 featured designers in Gen Art’s recent L.A. "Fresh Faces in Fashion" show. Athletes John Sally and Steve Smith were among his first clients, while Leonardo DiCaprio, Colin Farrell and Mekhi Phifer followed suit, so to speak, soon thereafter. OutKast’s style maven Andre 3000 has also commissioned several custom pieces for public appearances, a collaboration that enhances the designer’s status among the eminently hip. Today, a select few boutiques; tomorrow, the world.

—Clint Catalyst

Waraire Boswell is available at Fred Segal Street, 420 Broadway, Santa Monica, (310) 395-2831; Wolf, 1337 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 392-8551; and Lisa Kline Men, 123 S. Robertson Blvd., No. B, Los Angeles,
(310) 385-7113.

 

Models:


Jack Cain (Nous)


Wenty (L.A. Models)


Jack (top photo) wears a cotton shirt with a "star blue wash" denim jacket and jeans.

Wenty is in a cotton shirt with flip French cuffs and "dirty mechanic wash" denim jeans.

Jack is in a cotton shirt with a cotton corduroy five-button jacket and "star blue wash" denim trousers; Wenty wears a cotton shirt with French flip cuffs and wool pinstripe pants with a zip pocket.

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