The Evolution of Borris Powell

By Allison Duncan

Borris Powell’s evolution as a designer started at a young age, watching his mother dress for any and every occasion, and he has since continued to grow into a world-renowned designer with a unique, classic and clean aesthetic. Powell says that he didn’t pursue fashion; rather, fashion pursued him. Inspired by all things beautiful, Powell’s three muses are his mother, his best girl friend Kenya Patterson, and finally himself.

“My mother will help my thoughts stay clean and classic,” says Powell. “I channel Kenya when I need to see a more youthful and racy look. And I’m quite conservative in dress myself. And then there’s the world that is just full of beauty.” With a variety of influences, Powell imagines the men and women wearing his designs as confident, chic and lovers of attention, but doing nothing to command it… other than wearing his captivating designs, of course.

Powell designs with everyone in mind. “I am currently working on making everyone my target market,” says Powell. “For now, however, my target is an individual that likes to splurge on a piece that we call, ‘an investment piece.’” Powell hopes that anyone and everyone who wants to wear Borris Powell designs will be able to in the future.

In the next five years, Powell sees his brand as becoming a recognized label throughout the world, hopefully as a label that everyone wants to wear. He hopes to expand to having locations in Amsterdam, Milan, London, Moscow, and Paris.

With such lofty goals, it’s no surprise that Powell says there is no such thing as a typical day for him, aside from the daily feeling of running a mad race from sun up to sun down. “I find myself working way more than I find myself not working,” says Powell. “But my work is my playground so, to me, I get to play everyday.”

Although work is pleasure for Powell, he does advise aspiring designers to recognize that fashion design is a business more than an art now. He recommends knowing your voice, knowing what you want to be known for and being hungry for it.

“Once a dear friend of mine by the name of J Wolf told me that you can be the best at everything,” says Powell. “So surround yourself with people that are much stronger than you at your weaknesses, and this is the fastest way to grow your business.”

And while Powell is on the fast track to massive success, he has faced some struggles as a designer. “The struggles for me have been following my crazy dreams in a place where the resources are plentiful,” says Powell. “But this has also turned me into a very resourceful person.”

Having won the Oscar Designer Challenge in 2011, Powell has used his resources wisely. He cites the win as his proudest accomplishment to date, with opening his own studio/showroom space as a close second.

And aside from being resourceful, Powell has had several mentors in his evolution as a designer. Both Christian Dior and Valentino have been a source of inspiration in the design process, and Powell also mentions his family and friends for their constant love and support.

Powell’s mission, however, is to follow in the footsteps of Dior and Valentino. “They knew how to dress women,” says Powell. “It was so effortless. They made every women feel like a princess, and that is my mission. I can only hope that when I’m gone the industry will say the same about me.”

Based on his past accomplishments, one can be confident that Powell will soon join the ranks of his role models.

Photos by Donna Binbek