Joan Burstein, once described by the late Jean Muir as a courageous retailer with a sense of discernment and a good nose for fashion, founded Browns with her husband, Sidney, in 1970. Then a small boutique, it is today recognized as one of London’s most famous fashion emporiums. Their daughter, Caroline, has since joined them and is now a key member in the family business and most recently their son Simon has moved back from Paris to head up the company as CEO.
The key to the success of Browns, according to Mrs. Burstein, stems from a total understanding of what the customers want and need.
Mrs. Burstein, has been instrumental in the initial success of household names such as John Galliano, Donna Karan, Alexander McQueen and Sonia Rykiel. She has an intuitive eye for innovative design direction and has been known to snap up new prospects before most of her competitors had noticed their existence - for example, Browns’ support of British designers including Matthew Williamson, Hussein Chalayan and Julian Macdonald. And in the last couple of seasons has kick started the careers and been the first to buy into the new generation of designers, including Christopher Kane, Gareth Pugh and Marios Schwab.
Browns has no strict fashion philosophy other than the ruthless editing of the world’s best womenswear and menswear collections. They know and understand their customers and, as a family, have the ability to provide a personal, friendly, informed service - a distinct point of difference in the fierce retail environment of the new century.
Since its establishment, Browns has developed and expanded to include the five interconnecting Browns shops in South Molton Street, a smaller scaled version at 6c Sloane Street, a Labels For Less shop , carrying last seasons reduced stock. Brown Focus was launched in 1997 to cater for the younger cutting edge clientele and more recently, in 2004, the Brown Bride store has been created.
In 2006, Mrs B was honoured as CBE in the Queens birthday honours list. She was acknowledged for her magnificent work in making Browns the global fashion emporium it is today and her efforts towards the British Fashion Industry as a whole.
2010 sees Browns celebrate 40 years!