Borris Powell’s story: From the Alabama projects to Chicago

Borris Powell

Borris Powell


Perseverance: Be steadfast or staunch or constant, keep going, stand fast or firm, show determination; endure, carry on or through, keep at or on or up.

On a day when you are feeling a little lost, that maybe your dreams can’t come true, or you don’t know how you will make them a reality – think about this inspirational story of fashion designer, Borris Powell. Borris has lived in Chicago since 1997 but that is not where his story begins. His story begins in the projects of rural Alabama. Everything that Borris has achieved has come from his attitude and determination and especially, his ability to persevere. He will tell you that there was one defining moment when he took a leap of faith to start his fashion brand, Borris Powell, but after hearing him tell his story I believe that his entire life has been a leap of faith – going beyond the expected to the unimaginable. Borris, a southern boy, tells how it happened that he left his home and ended up in Chicago …

I grew up in the projects of Alabama. Our town was so small that there were only 74 people in my graduating class. There were limited options if you were a boy: the way that boys were measured was their participation and success in sports. I had no interest in sports. I was interested in home economics but boys were’s allowed to be interested in home-ec …

My dad’s sister was a fashion model and she introduced me to the world of fashion, a world I had never seen before. When I was about 9 years old she took me to my first fashion show and I remember loving it. My mother was a seamstress and I was curious about her sewing machine, but again, boys weren’t allowed to be interested in sewing machines. As I got older and my mother became busy during our summer vacations, I would sneak and play with her sewing machine. That sparked my curiosity even more …

When I was younger, I was a member of the drum corp in the performing arts. That is how I ended up in Chicago for the first time: performing. I fell in love with this vibrant, exciting city from the start. When I was marching with the Cavaliers in 1995, something happened that was to change the course of my life: I watched the designer of our costumes appear with a sketch pad, an assistant, and tape wrapped around his neck. I followed him around for the entire day. Everything in my life came together in that moment and I knew then what I was meant to do …

I finished up my tour, went home to Alabama, packed my bags and moved to Ohio. Eventually, I made my way back to Chicago on October 27, 1997. And almost ten years after moving to Chicago, I pursued my passion and began to learn the design trade bit by bit. I began by taking a 10-week sewing class at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store. Since I didn’t have the funds to attend college, I aligned myself with college students and learned the craft by experimenting and teaching myself. To make ends meet I became a retail manager …

People started to pay attention to the work I was doing, and after two years of designing on my own, I was invited to London Fashion Week. Soon after came an invitation to New York Fashion Week – it was all very exciting. After four years of designing on my own, I left my job in retail, took a leap of faith, and in 2009 formulated the Borris Powell brand

The Borris Powell brand is a lifestyle and luxury brand. My motto is ‘Welcome to Your New Lifestyle!’ I design custom suits for men. For women, I create classic pieces with a hint of sex appeal. It’s never ‘in your face’ sexy, but rather, I love exposing certain parts of a woman’s body like the neckline and shoulders and back. For the Fall/Winter 2015 Collection, I have partnered with a technology company, ACT, to create garments that are completely stain-resistant. Every fabric (with the exception of leather and lycra spandex) will be safe from stains that soil …

I believe there is a direct connection between fashion and self esteem. When you are wearing the right outfit you walk three inches taller and add spring to your step. Wearing clothes is a direct reflection of your mood and fashion, the number one motivator to transport you to a different world. I think that all of us need to step out looking our best. I will never leave my house in sweatpants or lounge pants; those are worn only at home. I think we can all take a page from the Italian fashion books!”

This is an exciting time for Borris! He’s dressed many for the award shows in Hollywood; his dresses have appeared at the Grammys, the Oscars, and the Emmys. In addition to his design work, he is serving as costume designer for upcoming television show, Sex and Love. And Borris is also in conversation to share his story on television. “Not bad for a boy from the projects in Alabama,” says Borris. But the bottom line is that he is committed to his business: “My name is my business. My business is my name. That is what I was put on this earth to do.” _MG_3130Optimized-GC Magazine Lounge Room No LogoIMG_0575-e1421106406918




Your thoughts?

I love comments. Feel free to share yours

29 thoughts on “Borris Powell’s story: From the Alabama projects to Chicago

  1. BjP, I love the way that you stayed True to yourself ! I love you ! Keep pressing toward the Goal !

    • Congrats on your continued success. I admire people achieving their dreams. I am hoping to be successful as well with my dream. You inspire me.

      • Loretta, you are so right. I admire people who achieve their dreams as well. I am sure you will reach your dream as well. Keep believing! xx Mel

  2. Proud of you. Glad you followed your dream. It not where you come from but where you end up. Love reading about you here in Alabama.

  3. Keep up the good work…you have made a mark for young people. If you see your dream then purse your dream. Congratulation on your success.

  4. Hey to my beautiful baby, you are one of the love of my life. You can into my life forty years ago an I wouldn’t change nothing. You brought tear an laughter into my life. Enough alredy, I am so proud to call you my son. You will always be mine, I love you more than you will ever know. I keep you on my prays 24/7. I have nothing but good thing to say about BjP. Keep your head high an do you thing cause I will always have your back.You are going places an I will join you, saying that’s my baby. Love you forever an I give God the praise

  5. Such a beautiful article. So glad I am and was the Auntie you could talk to about anything. I hope some of our conversations helped you along the way. As always, I wish you the best of everything. Much LOVE!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply