Black Fashion History: Stephen Burrows

Words by Tasha Mercer, #styleSPLOITATION Contributor

Burrows Pink

Stephen Burrows has definitely made a name for himself as one of the first African-American designer to receive recognition for his contributions in the fashion industry. Burrows, born September 15, 1943 in Newark, NJ has gained great success as a fashion designer. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

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Immediately upon graduating, Burrows became a fashion designer working for Weber Originals and later launched his ready-to-wear clothing line with his friend Roz Rubenstein in 1969 for Bonwit Teller. Soon after, Burrows was hired by Geraldine Stultz and given his own boutique called Stephen Burrows World at the Henri Bendel department store. Stephen Burrows World became very popular bringing in prominent clientele like Cher, Diana Ross, and Barbra Streisand, among others. In this time, Burrows had received the highest notable recognition in the fashion industry and was nominated for a Coty Award, which he also received in the following years.

Burrows Form

In 1973 Burrows had founded Burrows Inc. and was one of five American designers who’d been invited to show his collection in Versailles, France. During that time, Burrows received great stature for his work which in turn made him the first African American to gain fame internationally. Burrows was known for his revolutionary designs and his “lettuce edge” which became his signature and is still used today. By 2002, Burrows reopened the “Stephen Burrows World” boutique, receiving great recognition from the American, French, and Japanese editions of Vogue. Burrows continued making his way down the road of success as he was honored with many more awards. Burrows has recently celebrated the opening of his new showroom and design studio. Ranking close to his 50th year as a designer, Burrows continues to let music, movement, and dance influence his revolutionary collections. Stephen Burrows is a black trailblazer of fashion. Salute!