London's iconic fashion retail destination.
Browns was founded by Joan Burstein, CBE and her late husband Sidney in 1970. The original store was owned by Sir William Piggott Brown, where Simon Burstein, fomer CEO, worked on Saturdays.
Located at the time opposite “One Stop Records”, the only place to buy music and socialise, Simon recognised the huge potential of the space and together with his sister, Caroline Burstein, convinced their parents to buy it. Karl Lagerfeld was at Chloé, Ziggy Stardust was re-writing the rules on gender and fashion, and Studio 54 was the place to be.
At the dawn of an agenda-setting era, Joan and Sidney Burstein’s impact on the London Fashion scene sent tremors of excitement throughout the industry. There were no multi-brand boutiques at this time and as word spread and popularity soared, Browns outgrew its humble beginnings and soon acquired shops 27, 26, 25, and 23 on the same street. Renowned for exclusively introducing European brands, such as Sonia Rykiel to British fashion lovers, Browns cemented its reputation as a destination for both cutting-edge trends and timeless style.
With an innate flair for talent-spotting, Browns became the first boutique in the UK to stock the emerging American designers who were defining 80s style with their graphic logos and bold silhouettes. Following a chance meeting at Studio 54, between Mrs B and Calvin Klein, Browns secured the exclusive UK launch of the iconic brand. Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Norma Kamali were soon lining the rails too. Adventurous and confident in their pursuit of such designers, Browns embraced the non-commercial and the glamorous alike, establishing an eclectic mix from Commes des Garçons to Alaïa – labels you’ll still find at Browns today.
As well as championing international and home-grown sartorial success stories, Browns became a rare incubator for fresh, young talent. Recognising the great potential in the graduate collections of designers such as John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, Browns stocked them alongside the big global players and displayed them proudly in their windows - a badge of honour that was unheard of for rookie labels at that time. In 1997, Browns opened a dedicated talent platform through Brown Focus, a boutique devoted to young designers which would elevate them to international recognition.
After thirty thrilling years in business, Brownsfashion.com launched, making the legendary ‘Browns Buy’ accessible to an entirely new audience. Plus, alongside continually championing the avant-garde, Browns inaugurated an elegant fine jewellery room at 26 South Molton Street and launched Browns Bridal boutiques. Meanwhile, Mrs B was commended for her game-changing contributions to the British Fashion Industry, receiving a CBE in The Queen’s birthday honours.
The search for creativity, innovation and originality continues to define the Browns spirit. In 2015, Farfetch, also known for its pioneering approach, bought and started investing in Browns, combining the Browns legacy with Farfetch’s tech brilliance. Holli Rogers was appointed as CEO, leading a dynamic team into a new era for Browns.
HOLLI ROGERS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Appointed in July 2015, as Chief Executive Officer of Browns, Holli Rogers is responsible for developing and driving the Browns business objectives and strategy, through leadership of the Browns management team and the Board of Directors.
Holli was a founding member of Net-A-Porter, joining in 2002. Over 12 years, 8 of which were as fashion and buying director, Holli was in charge of the global buying strategy for all womenswear, fine jewellery and accessories. This included key projects such as the launch into the US and Asia, both necessitating dedicated websites and territory-based distribution centres.
Holli also established and led the buying direction for the launch of The Outnet in 2009 and Mr Porter in 2011. Having grown up in Texas, Holli started her career on the prestigious buying training program at Neiman Marcus’s Dallas Head Quarters, before moving to New York for a role with Chanel. Currently, Holli is also a judge for the British Fashion Council's Fashion Awards.
Visit any of Browns’ stores and you will be struck not only by the unique family atmosphere, but also the incredible Browns’ sales executives, trained to provide nothing less than a personal shopping experience to every customer. In store or online, whether it’s bringing our clothes to your home or hotel, sourcing a particular piece or using the in-house atelier to get your perfect fit, Browns always ensure unparalleled service.
This exhibit was created by the British Fashion Council in collaboration with Browns. All rights belong to the Browns unless otherwise specifically stated. All models and photographers have been credited where known.