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Willi Smith

sheenmagazine.com

SHEEN Black History | Fashion Designer Willi Smith

In 1965, he was awarded two scholarships to attend the Parsons School of Design in New York. He graduated from high school in 1967 and began working full-time. By 1969, his name could be found on the label of apparel produced by Digits, a sportswear manufacturer. Smith subsequently established his own clothing company and fashion brand, Williwear.
NEW YORK STATE
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howafrica.com

Willi Smith: One Of The Most Successful Black Fashion Designers In History

Smith’s label, Williwear, was grossing $25m a year before his death in 1987. What would he have done had he lived beyond 39?. He invented streetwear, was the most high-profile black fashion designer of the 80s and influenced a generation, yet fashion history has largely forgotten Willi Smith. That is all about to change with a new book celebrating the designer, who died in 1987.
NEW YORK CITY, NY
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BET

28 Days Of Black History: Willi Smith Set The Precedent For Streetwear As We Know It Today

Throughout history, Black fashion pioneers and African-American designers used their talent to make a name for themselves in a highly competitive, predominantly white industry. Like Patrick Kelly and Stephen Burrows, many of these icons used their talent to carve out a position for themselves in the industry that didn't exist before. To understand the fashion industry as we know it today, we need to look back at the pioneers who led the way.
GEORGIA STATE
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Curbed

How Cooper Hewitt Revived Willi Smith’s Radical Showrooms

“I don’t design clothes for the Queen; but for the people who wave at her as she goes by,” said fashion designer Willi Smith, who got many of his best ideas from New York City’s street life. His label, WilliWear, was the first streetwear brand, and his clothes, which came out in the late 1970s, were modern, comfortable, and expressive — think oversized blazers and trousers that all body types could wear, chunky knits, and fabrics sourced from all around the world. (One of his most popular pieces was a one-size-fits-all cargo pant with adjustable waistband.) Smith often sold patterns of his designs, too, so that people could make his clothes at home. So, in the early 80s, when he wanted to open his own showroom, he told James Wines, founder of the architecture and environmental arts studio SITE, to make it “as far from Ralph Lauren as possible.” Smith took Wines to his favorite haunts on the west side — the Christopher St. pier and nightclubs nearby — and while they walked around the area, he pointed out all the materials and textures that he liked. Wines thought: Let’s do the street.
NEW YORK CITY, NY