AIDS in Black America: A Journey Through the Years
An Emerging Pioneer
Willi Smith has been called one of the most successful Black designers in the fashion
Willi Smith has been called one of the most successful Black designers in the fashion history. Smith and sister, actress Toukie Smith, founded their own clothing company in 1973. Three years later, he cofounded the WilliWear company. He frequently traveled to India to find exotic fabrics and designs. In 1987 he contracted a parasitic disease that caused him to be hospitalized with pneumonia. Two days later he died. His autopsy revealed that he had AIDS. By the time of his death, WilliWear was reportedly selling over $25 million worth of clothing a year.