History and Culture of StreetWear: Willi Smith Inspires Globally
By: ZaNaria Bowens
June 19, 2021
Streetwear Fashion Elevating Spaces for Black Communities
High fashion streetwear looks that everyone is dying to replicate through their clothing that came long before seen on runways. It’s time to give out a history lesson about Willi Smith. Streetwear came directly from black communities. These are the outfits you didn’t have to worry about a mother getting on to you about messing up.
Quick Blast to The Past: Origin of Streetwear
The depth of streetwear is changing and holds heavy dialogue communicated through everyday fashion. In the late 1800s and 1900s, beyond talented, black designer Willi Smith shined, pivoting Haute creator streetwear. Diving into history about Willi Smith, The Willi Wear News, fashion newspaper feature stats and look books of Willi’s produced designs (Comita Jenny WMmagazine). A friend of Willi, Kim Hastreiter, commented: “They loved Willi’s clothes so much that they wore them all the time so much that they’d turned into tatters. They literally wore them out.”(Comita Jenny WMmagazine). In his beginning days of fashion, he studied fashion illustration at Parsons School of Design and eventually left the institution due to being expelled. That didn’t stop Smith. Shortly after working as a freelancer, many doors began to open for him. One, in particular, was Glenora Juniors from 1968 (C.L Mayers I.D.Vice). He began designing at various locations until WilliWear was established. Before his death in 1987, Willi Wear made a revenue of $25 million. Understanding that Willi made fashion out of what he had and the environment he grew up in begins the inspiration of many streetwear brands today.
Fast Forward Houston, Texas: Fashion Influence
Houston serves as a city of mixed culture, arts, and elements, allowing growing streetwear brands and people with emerging ideas. Fashion brands include Passhion Originals, Thriftqueens, 1nelife Clothing, 1921 movement, The Closet with Mike Mills, Hydepark Goods, The TrendSetter Agency, and vintage pieces found OptionsHtx make a significant impact in everyday fashion.
Profitable brands are growing in a space balancing the ability to collaborate and discover in ways connecting with consumers. Times are different where designers express full ideas, many starting selling merchandise out of car trunks, unique storefronts, and pop-up shops to reach members in the community. The history behind streetwear culture is dictated by brands working towards generational wealth, positioning creativity that is longevity.
The foundation that these brands push holds valuable aspects in black communities giving back, participating in helping, teaching, and inspiring members in the community how to create their own. Much like the inspiration Willi Smith started.
The baggy look is back with eye-catching and comfortable Oversized T-shirts trends
At OptionsHtx, Thriftqueens custom printed jeans with Black icons like Lauryn Hill and Jean-Michel Basquiat influence the style of art transcending music and fashion.
(Picture from Thriftqueens via Instagram “Young Jean Simmons”)
(Picture from 1921movement via Instagram “Black Boy Fly” meaning “To Prosper”)
Street Wear leads the future
For designers, creatives, and artists making a profession expressing their designs through clothing spread information and ideas for anyone now. We live in a new day where streetwear is a movement and even changing views of business casual in workspaces. In addition, streetwear collaborations open doors for photographers, stylists, editorial writers, models, and many more.