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Browns founder Sidney Burstein dies

Sidney Burstein, co-founder of the iconic London indie Browns, died on Monday aged 93.

Burstein, who founded the independent designer emporium with his wife Joan Burstein in the 1970s, was a hugely influential retailer who remained involved in Browns until he died. He was publicaly described by his wife as her “rock” in the business.

Sidney Burstein was born in 1917, the son of a Russian father and a Polish mother.

His first foray into retail came in 1948, when, when along with his wife Joan and brother Willie, he launched a shop called Wilbuer in Kingston Applemarket, selling lingerie.

The three business partners then went on to run a store called Neatawear in Maidenhead, which grew into a women’s young fashion high street chain.

When the business collapsed in the mid 1960s he and Joan launched an indie called Feathers in Kensington.

In 1970, Sidney and Joan Burstein took over their first store on South Molton Street, which was named Browns after previous owner Sir William Piggott Brown.

Since then Browns has grown to include the five interconnecting designer stores on South Molton Street as well as a Labels For Less store and Browns Focus which launched in 1997 to sell  younger, edgier brands. The portfolio also includes a bridal store and last year Browns Shoes opened on Brook Street in Mayfair.   

Browns has always supported emerging British designers and currently stocks labels such as Christopher Kane and Mark Fast.

Sidney Burstein was a leader in ecommerce, launching the Browns website eight years ago, well before many other designer retailers.

He passed away peacefully on April 5 with his family at his side.

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