Stephen Burrows is back in the denim game, although not necessarily in traditional blue jeans.
This story first appeared in the February 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The designer closely associated with Seventies looks and lifestyles will include pieces from his new capsule collection, dubbed Stephen Burrows for Raven Denim and produced and sold by the Los Angeles-based premium jeans brand, in his runway show to be held in New York Thursday. The agreement with Raven runs for two seasons, beginning with fall 2012, and is subject to renewal by the parties.
The collaborators, including Raven design director Ya-el Torbati, drew heavily upon Burrows’ close association with the New York club scene in general and Studio 54 in particular. The collection includes a style named after model Pattie Cleveland, another for her daughter Anna von Ravenstein and a third for Grace Jones. The Pattie is a slim trouser in dark indigo, the Anna a skinny jean available in a snakeskin print and jet black, and the Grace a high-waisted denim short. The Pattie and the Anna feature contrasting red topstitching and antique pewter hardware, and the topstitching, a signature touch for Burrows, is also featured on the Alva, a cropped black denim jacket named for longtime Burrows model Alva Chin.
Retail prices are slated to range from $165 to $218 with the bulk of the selling responsibilities handled by Raven, and Burrows’ firm receiving an unspecified commission based on sales.
“For anyone with a fascination with fashion history, Seventies style or downtown New York, Stephen is it,” said Torbati.
Differentiating Raven from many in the premium jeans market is a more tailored approach to the women’s bottoms business, which the company describes as “anti-casual,” setting up what Torbati considers an ideal marriage with Burrows. “Our aesthetics and vision were perfectly aligned,” she said. “Together, we created a sleek, chic collection that combines Stephen’s signature style with today’s denim trends.”
Alain Lafourcade, chief operating officer of Raven, was living in his native France when Burrows first hit the runways and the party circuit in the Seventies. “I met him at a Coterie show and before then didn’t know his life, his background or his importance as a black American designer,” he told WWD. “But we were so impressed by his talent and thought that his feminine approach to fashion would really fit in well with what we do at Raven.
“We’re in the process of rebuilding the brand and this arrangement is a positive step,” he said.
Lafourcade came to the U.S. about 20 years ago, serving in various production capacities for firms including Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and Yanuk, where he was first associated with Torbati. Raven was acquired by Kris Park’s New Crew Production Corp. in 2008 and the new owners brought in Torbati and Lafourcade the following year. Lafourcade serves as chief operating officer of both Raven and Siwy, an affiliated denim brand.
Like the rest of Raven’s products, the Burrows assortment will be produced in New Crew’s Los Angeles production facilities. Lafourcade knows that products succeed or fail in the marketplace based on their intrinsic value; still, he sees new opportunities emerging for domestic producers.
“When I watched the Super Bowl and saw Clint Eastwood’s commercial for Chrysler, I began to think that the message that we need to support the country was starting to get through to more people,” he said.