Trinidad-born Andrew Ramroop OBE, who left these shores at 17 years to become a Savile Row tailor, was awarded the Black British Business (BBB) Person of the Year 2017.
“There was no way I would possibly expect to be chosen as Black British Business Person of the Year – not in my wildest imagination. I still feel like I am floating on air,” said Ramroop, CEO and master tailor of the legendary Savile Row brand Maurice Sedwell Ultra Bespoke.
Ramroop has tailored for heads of states and governments and celebrities, a release from the TK Taylor Kerek social media company said.
The BBB Awards, celebrating “exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black people in businesses operating in Great Britain,” was held in mid-October.
Ramroop, now widely considered one of the world’s finest tailors, went alone to London from Trinidad to train as a master tailor.
His story is one of hard work, focus and single-minded pursuit of his dreams.
He studied at the London College of Fashion, where he finished the three-year course in two years. On Savile Row, he was turned down for apprenticeship.
“In those early days my accent wasn’t right. My features didn’t fit in and my hair was bushy. I was applying for jobs to be at the front of the shop to meet and greet, cut and to fit design and deliver.
“Employers did not welcome a West Indian. Perhaps it was racism or lack of confidence in themselves. They wanted to protect their own businesses,” he said.
In 1974, Ramroop was seconded to Maurice Sedwell and in 1988, when Sedwell was ready to retire, Ramroop bought the business after 14 years as an employee.
Banks would not lend him money but he expanded the business from 0 per cent export to about 75 per cent, and has built its reputation of exceptional quality as one of the most respected tailoring houses in the world.
Today Ramroop is among the world’s most-sought-out “Ultra Bespoke” tailors and one of only three exclusive bespoke tailors left on Savile Row.
He is also the only black person to own a tailor’s shop on Savile Row. His personal mission statement is “Committed to Excellence.”
His string of accolades includes an OBE for services to tailoring and training, Mayor of London Trailblazer Award, and chief adviser to the World Federation of Master Tailors.
In the 700 years of tailoring history in London, he is the only tailor to be conferred professor for distinction in the field of tailoring by the University of the Arts, London.
In 2008 Ramroop opened the Savile Row Academy, where he shares his knowledge with the next generation of elite tailors.
This autumn Ramroop will launch his project the FAME-Caribbean 2K17 initiative, which aims to catalyse the Caribbean fashion industry.
“FAME-Caribbean 2K17 is the brainchild born out of my experiences in the menswear industry for the last 50 years,” he said.
He has seen first-hand, he said, how much improvement is needed in the Caribbean in the areas of high-quality craftsmanship, design and delivery.
“FAME-Caribbean’s primary objective is to address these needs by positioning ourselves to offer training, sustainable business development, mentoring and support to practitioners in Trinidad and Tobago.”
In response to the recent destructive hurricanes and flooding in the Caribbean, Ramroop has launched the Green Runway Benefit, a fund-raising evening featuring fashion, to help victims in Barbuda, Dominica and Trinidad.