Person

Cheryl Braunstein

Black and white page from Summer 1986 issue of WilliWear News with female model striking a dramatic pose surrounded by text

I was a teenager when I first heard of Willi Smith and was far from being any kind of a trendsetter in my suburban California high school.

On a special occasion trip to San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus store, there they were—an affordable set of WilliWear black slacks at a price that I could afford and in my size. They fit me perfectly, and I felt like I was really something whenever I put them on. Within a year of my purchase, Willi Smith passed away. A few years after that, the pants no longer fit. Even so, after all these years, I couldn’t bear to ever part with them. They are a tangible memento of the time—like a concert T-shirt or a mixed tape from an old boyfriend. I haven’t been able to wear the pants for decades, but I still have them.

Black and white page from Summer 1986 issue of WilliWear News with female model striking a dramatic pose surrounded by text

WilliWear News, Summer 1986 Collection, 1986


Image of black-and-white WilliWear fabric tag; left side of tag has white text stating "WilliWear" on black ground; right side has black tect stating "Willi Smith" on white ground

WilliWear label, courtesy of Cheryl Braunstein