The late-great Willi Smith was a Philadelphia-native, who eventually moved to New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, kept his eye on the arts scene and was often inspired by street culture, which is why his work was often referred to as “Street Couture.” He designed comfortable and inexpensive sportswear for men and women all over America under his label, Willi Wear. His collections usually included plenty of colors and prints. Smiths’ signature designs won the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award for Women’s Fashion in 1983. WilliWear was a huge success; it was sold in more than 500 shops, and eventually helped him land a few other gigs. Said gigs included designing Mary Jane’s wedding gown in a Spider-Man comic, as well as outfitting the cast of Spike Lee’s classic, School Daze. Long live Willi Smith. Unfortunately he died of AIDS in 1987.



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