Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Last night, I caught a little of of Tavis Smiley's show on PBS. Well lookie here, it's Oswald Boateng, one of the "new breed" of clothing designers. Well, maybe not SO new. The guy's sense of style is crazy-bananas (in the lingo of the young folks). If you don't know, he's the Creative Director of Givenchy's menswear division, and is a bespoke tailor to the stars (Fishburne, Smith, Bowie, Jagger, Foxx....) Even his cousin rocks it; check out the green coat and yellow shoes: The Sartorialist - Wednesday, March 22, 2006.

So besides his impeccable fashion sense and devotion to the craft of tailoring, what really jumped in my ears up was talk of...biofuels? What, a fashionista has gotten into the energy game? Bowl me over with a liter of methyl ester.... This can't be-a melding of fashion with humanitarian work, a project so grand it possesses far-reaching implications that just might include me driving a carbon-neutral Bimmer 535D in the U.S.? That's not supposed to happen (even with Bono and Edun or Rogan).


Boateng: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And [Ghanaians] are [the nicest people]. And it’s like one of the safest places in the world to be in. And Ghana has enormous opportunity, and it’s funny, 'cause as I was saying to you, is I was only in Ghana, like, a week ago, and I was talking to the King Of Ashanti, and there's a couple of projects that I'm working on right now where we’re basically effectively planting trees.

*EK: [Planting trees???]

There's this tree called a pongamia tree which is amazing. It creates these seeds that basically you can compress or process and actually create diesel fuel, biofuel. And it’s something that the King of Ashanti…

Tavis: Out of the tree?

Boateng: Yeah.

Tavis: Wow.

Boateng: So actually, it’s basically these seeds that grow.

Tavis: Right.

Boateng: The trees take between three and five years to grow, and basically I'm doing a project with planting trees on about a million acres of land there, and we’re doing a similar project in Uganda. And hopefully, it will spread across Africa. So it’s an interesting project, and it’s where my heart is.

*EK: [Million acres??? Uganda too? Spreading?]

*Full transcript

Tavis trailed off onto another topic. They should have fleshed this out more, but the guy has a show and stores to promote so ya'll get a ghetto pass.

Of course Google had to help me out here because I'd never heard of this tree. In the U.S., biodiesel is usually made from virgin soy, canola, or sunflower oil, and in some cases waste oils from restaurants and animal rendering plants. In tropical locales, palm or coconut plantations are displacing rainforests to produce the stuff, but that has attendant issues as well. This Honge oil (as it's referred to in India) seems like a good candidate (along with jatropha) for producing biodiesel oilcrops on marginal lands unsuitable for food production.

At first, I'd intimated that because he opened his first shop outside of the UK in...Moscow of all places, that he must have come into contact with some sharp-dressing Lukoil execs. Maybe. Or he's been partying hard with the eco-diplomats and Morgan Freeman at some chic Plenty launch party in Hollywood. Whose to know, I mean the guy knows the King of Ashanti, so anything's possible.

This cross-pollination of ideas couldn't happen at a better time. It shows you don't have to wear birkenstocks and ride a bicycle to work in mid-winter to proudly show your eco-badge. Boateng's project has tremendous potential for rural economies in developing nations, so I wish him all the success in the world. If anyone in the blogosphere can connect the PSK family with Mr. Boateng (or any of his venture partners), I'd be indebted to you for...a little while. We need to talk about expanding his line to include organic wool, vegetable-dyed 3-piece suits and organic cotton shirts.

*Tree Provides Biodiesel For India By Keya Acharya (scroll on down, it's not difficult).


Anonymous J Lew said...

boateng has a new tv show starting on the STYLE network, i believe

3:47 PM  
Anonymous inas said...

Dang.... I did get a chance to see the Ashanti king about 4 feet from my face, but I'on know him like that. But Boateng..He should recognize me..he did a wicked wax print dress for me like once..I'll see what I can do...LOL

12:09 AM  

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