Come Wednesday night at this year's ESPY Awards, don't be surprised to see Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin arrive in their best-looking attire at the Oscars of Sports. That's because they'll be wearing custom-made pieces by Waraire Boswell, the L.A.-based designer who helped Andrew Wiggins stand out as the No. 1 NBA draft pick in a floral embroidered blazer.
Standing at six feet seven inches, it's hard not to notice the well-dressed L.A. native. When Pret-a-Reporter met up with Boswell at his 10th floor downtown L.A. studio — which just happens to be in the scorching-hot Broadway district across from the Ace Hotel — he arrived to work in a fitted long-sleeve dress shirt and what he called his "black princely garb": purple linen pants with elastic cuffs and zipper details, and Common Project kicks. "This is pretty much my garb when I'm not wearing a suit," Boswell says of the self-designed outfit.
With his towering figure, Boswell has always had trouble finding clothes that fit him well. It was during his time at William Morris Agency, enrolled as part of the agent-training program, that made him realize his true passion was in fashion design.
"I had windowpane pants, canary yellow Hush Puppies — there was a hodgepodge of all these things because nobody was making stuff for guys my size," he recalled of his non-stereotypical attire in comparison to the other agents' all-black or all-gray suits. So he changed his career path, leading him to find out what he was destined to do: design custom menswear.
Since establishing his namesake label in 2003, Boswell has dressed some of the biggest names in the NBA, including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Before he started becoming the go-to designer for basketball players, it was Tyson Chandler (then-New Orleans Hornets player and now Dallas Mavericks center) who Boswell says first opened up the doors for him to work with today's hottest stars on the court.
Boswell says he generally likes to ask his clients for a four- to five-week period to plan and complete a perfectly fitted bespoke suit, but isn't always given all the time he desires. Boswell and his team have whipped up custom-designed outfits within 24 to 72 hours before big events (LeBron James' custom ensemble at last year's ESPY Awards was turned around in a week) but he doesn't prefer — or encourage — last-minute requests. "It's not something we can microwave. It's more about the quality that my brand represents," he notes. While the Waraire Boswell bespoke designs are priced from $1,800 to $5,000 and up, the ME by Waraire Boswell made-to-measure line starts at $1,200 and is available on his website.
The designer's ability to adapt to his customers' needs is perhaps why the brand's terrier logo is so fitting. "It's able to adapt in any environment, fiercely loyal," Boswell explains of the dog breed used to represent his brand. "Wherever it's at, it'll adapt."
When it comes to making his clients stand out with style, the married man and father of one son (with a baby on the way) has no problem helping them attract attention. Case in point as of late: Andrew Wiggins at last month's NBA Draft Day. Working with stylist Brandon Williams, who happened to drop by the showroom during the interview to collaborate with the designer for another client's outfit, the designer saw that Wiggins had the opportunity to be the No. 1 draft pick and translated that information into the player's eye-catching garb.
"Most rookies — when they come in — they have this look where they look like rookies. Their garb is just atrocious," he shares, adding that he wanted to give the drafted Cleveland Cavaliers player a "been here, been there, done that" look. "When you looked at him, even though the jacket was very pronounced, overall the fit was so on-point."
And if there's anyone who knows a thing or two about creating clothes that complement a person's body (or height), it's Boswell. As he puts it best, "It's all about the fit."
To find out more about how you, too, can look as dapper as James or Wiggins, check out www.waraireboswell.com or call 213-955-5750.