WilliWear Showroom

Image of brightly colored, patterned yellow and blue WilliWear garments displayed in WilliWear New York showroom on mannequins, along wall, and on the floor

Incorporating chain-link fencing and window grates into the WilliWear showroom design not only brought evocative elements of the city streets inside, it provided a framework for hanging WilliWear clothing along the walls. 


The monochrome gray of the showroom was chosen to allow the vibrant colors and bold patterns often seen in WilliWear collections to “pop” and capture full attention in the space. The neutral color of the showroom shifted all of the focus back onto the garments. 


Smith toured the city with SITE architect James Wines, showing him sources of inspiration on the street and in New York City’s gay nightlife. One source of inspiration for the womenswear showroom was the Christopher Street Pier, then a notorious gay cruising spot. Smith pointed out areas that featured his favorite textures, materials, and atmospheres. 

The WilliWear Womenswear showroom on 209 West 38th Street in New York was designed by James Wines and Alison Sky, partners of architecture and environmental design studio SITE. The showroom was completed in 1982 and was praised for its innovative design. Both SITE and WIlliWear sought to bring the improvisational and erratic energy of the street indoors as a means of breaking down codes of behavior in professional and institutional spaces. This manifested in the diverse use of showrooms as display, event, and social spaces.

SITE for WilliWear, Showroom, New York, NY, 1984

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