There were always sewing machines around the house although I never went near them." Conquering his macho distaste, Boateng was introduced to the mysteries of the Singer portable by the arty girlfriend and started making his own stuff.
He survived by striking a deal with Debenhams, the department store group, to design a "diffusion range" of clothes with his signature features - slender lines, skinny lapels, in-yer-face colours - but at affordable prices.
"To me the Row is the heartbeat of tradition, but it was dying.
Shops were closing down, tailors were going out of business. A lot of people who'd heard of it didn't even know where it was. And now people are coming back because a few people like myself are pushing the concept." And nearly going out of business themselves as a result.
He wants it to be "a fusion of traditional tailoring and high fashion". "I just want my ready-to-wear to be as close to bespoke as possible," he says with finality. "I'm completely correct," he says, like a duchess whose virtue has been questioned. If you can get past the colour and look at the style of the jacket, it's incredibly traditional.
But Ozwald, I say, "bespoke" means specially ordered to suit one person's measurements. I boned up, pre-interview, on Hardy Amies's The Englishman's Suit, a small but doctrinaire little history of tailoring, in which the word "correct" thwacks down again and again like a headmaster's cane: three buttons is correct, with only the middle one done up; shirts must be in pale colours (not white); braces are imperative, belts are not. A designer will look at a suit and say, 'I'd like to create this look' or 'I'd like to make that lapel wider'.