Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
Serving Greater Cincinnati

Willi Smith- Willi Wear

 I have always been a fan of fashion designer, Willi Smith, and his fashion line known as WilliWear. Smith believed in creating accessible fashion which would be readily available for people of all income levels. His vision for this became known as “street couture” and eventually his own brand called “WilliWear.” At its peak in the late 1980’s, the label was grossing $25 million in sales. Smith viewed his designs as democratic and gender neutral and used bold prints, plaids and stripes and color in unconventional and irreverent ways. 

Born in Philadelphia, Willi was an artistic child who came from a supportive family. He once said that they had more clothes at home than anything else as a child and both his parents were very clothes-conscious. Following his passion, Smith studied commercial art and design and attended the Parsons New School for Design. He was inspired by the looks he saw people wearing on the streets of New York. After a series of professional experiences and travels around the world, Smith launched his own label WilliWear in 1976. The line was a success providing stylish clothes for both men and women at affordable prices and using natural materials. 

Smith’s trend-setting designs and concept of accessible design would set the tone for the fashion industry to the present day. Fashions that reflect Smith’s vision for fun and flare can still be found on the display racks at your local Goodwill store and like Smith’s designs at prices that are affordable for everyone. 

Designer Willi Smith joins with the other fashion designers we have highlighted during the celebration of Black History Month to demonstrate the impact of black designers over time on today’s fashion looks. To find out more about the impact of Black fashion designers in history, visit the sites included in each post. To find fashion inspired by these innovative designers, visit your local Goodwill at all 19 locations as www.goodwillbargains.com.  We are grateful for the courage, innovation and creativity of these iconic designers who paved the way for the future of the fashion world. 

 Sharon Hannon, Marketing Director

For more information about “WilliWear” and Wille Smith, please visit the following: