This is D3 The Concrete, bringing you fashion from the street.

In my life, I have been very fortunate to have met many charismatic, compelling, and captivating people. Many of these individuals, I have met while on my travels to various places, but some of them, I have met right here in my hometown, Houston, TX. One person, in particular, is a man by the name of Wayne Spears. Mr. Spears, through my many conversations with him, is an OG when it comes to the fashion industry. Take a look at the following interview, and you will soon see that Wayne has done a lot for not only couture fashion, but he has also begun to make strides in the activewear fashion industry, with his line, CUZ & Company. Take a seat and learn some fashion history and tell us what you think in the comments below!

Bold Italics: D3 The Concrete // Regular Text: Wayne Spears // (All photos provided by Wayne Spears & Cuz & Company)

Tell us who you are and where you are from?

My name is Wayne Spears. I was born in Newport, Arkansas in 1958. My parents moved to St. Louis, Missouri, 6 months after my birth. I came to Houston, TX in December 1999 and been here every since.

This interview is going to be a little different, as normally, I ask people about their origins of entry into the world of streetwear. You, however, have had a bit of a different path in the fashion world. Share with us your fashion beginnings. 

My father was an artist and a very creative person. My mom was a seamstress. Also, my mom’s oldest sister was a very accomplished seamstress for our entire family. She also did a lot of sewing for her neighborhood and church. I discover my love for fabrics at a very young age while accompanying my mom and aunt to the various Fabric Stores.

Reading was my favorite pastime along with collecting comic books. The clothing in the comic books sparked my interest in designing. I started college majoring in Art then I switched my major to Clothing and Textiles Retailing. College is where I discovered that I could sew. I was never allowed to touch my mom’s sewing machine while growing up. But I spent hours watching her take a piece of fabric and turn it into a beautiful garment. So, learning to sew became very natural for me and designing was a gift from GOD. I began styling, designing and creating outfits for myself, my family and friends.

After returning home from college, I formed a small company of fashion models and performers to produce a series of fashion productions called, FASHION FANTASY. What made my shows popular were the choreographed fashion segments mixed with skits and vocal performances from local talent. I created the choreography, wrote the skits and selected the songs to be sung! It was quite different from the other Fashion runways during that time. I was sought after by different groups to provide the entertainment for their events. Some of my models that I trained went on to walk the stages of the EBONY FASHION FAIR out of Chicago, Illinois.

A local newspaper stated, “There is something new in the local fashion show circuit; a small company of performers marking their climb in public attention with Roman numerals. They are called, Wayne’s Jheri People and Company, with Wayne Spears as the producer, director and choreographer.” FASHION FANTASY I – III, FASHION FANTASY PLUS and FAME, FORTUNE & FUN, which featured a soap opera star from CBS’ THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS, successful raised funds for various charities in my hometown, St. Louis, Missouri.

The majority of the fashions for these productions were on loan from local stores that loved the concept of my choreographed fashion show to the sounds of Natalie Cole. Her music really inspired my creativity back then. I also would feature a few of my own designs at every show. These fashion productions provided me the platform to work with other seasoned designers, train numerous models, style local celebrities and gain popularity in the Fashion community.

What were some of your finest moments in fashion?

I was featured in the Sept. 24, 1985 edition of SOAP OPERA DIGEST for creating a collection for actress Stephanie E. Williams of FAME, Y&R, DYNASTY, GENERAL HOSPITAL and ONE LIFE TO LIVE. While in to North Hollywood, California working on Stephanie’s collection, I met international recording artist, Deniece Williams. Deniece hired me to design a gown for an upcoming tour overseas. In 1993, I was approached by my best friend, the late Danny Clark to design costumes for a reproduction of a classic play called AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ at the Landers Theatre in Springfield, Missouri. One theater critic wrote, “Wayne Spears’ flamboyant costumes help to capture the glowing ambiance of a Harlem nightclub.” Clark, a former principal dancer of the famous Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe, was quoted by a local newspaper that, “the costume designer Wayne Spears is brilliant.” Blessed to do a lot of things, but working with my close friends, Danny Clark and Stephanie E. Williams-Nelson was very special to me. We all graduated from University City Senior High School in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO.

Not only are you a clothing designer, but you are also a hat-maker (professionally known as a milliner). How did you learn those skills and what helped to set you apart from other hat-makers at the time?

I was hired by a millinery company in 1997 to help design a line of Sunday Morning Church Hats for women. I had a client that whenever I created an outfit for her, she would need a special hat. She would have me to go with her to this millinery company to give them ideas for the type of hat to be created for the outfit. This lead to a summer apprenticeship with that company. I left the millinery company, built my clientele and created my own hat line, HatStyles by Spears.

You now have a brand called CUZ & Company, which is more in the world of streetwear/activewear. What caused your switch from designing in the couture world, to designing t-shirts, tracksuits, and caps?

I took a sabbatical from the world of fashion in 1999. I moved to Houston, Texas to pursue a career in my other passion, Interior Decorating. After briefly working for a company as an Interior Design Consultant, I partnered with Art Borrego, Jr. to form the company, CUZ & Company. This partnership produced six consecutive productions, five being called, AN EVENING WITH A. C. COLEMAN and the sixth, REFLECTIONS, THE JOURNEY OF A REAL WOMAN, a Mother’s Day Tribute. These variety shows presented the talents of some of Houston’s finest entertainers.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT MUDDIE WATERS debuted on September 21, 2003 featuring EMI Gospel recording artist, Lamar Campbell, contemporary gospel songwriter, composer, singer, musician and the leader of Spirit of Praise. This sold out production also featured the talents of singer, songwriter Jerry Richard of Tru Sol and composer, piano vocalist Annetta Haynes. The IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT MUDDIE WATERS series was created by me as a showcase production for a premiere coffeehouse in Pearland, Texas called MUDDIE WATERS. The finale show of this series on February 22, 2004, raised funds for the GRIP Organization. The GRIP Organization provides health needs and support to children rape victims of South Africa. That show also featured Jerry Richard and Annetta Haynes along with the gifted Marie Brown, author/poet/songwriter and Cherokee-D, a well known Houston poet.

On December 12, 2002, the production: IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT THE MANOR was created as a benefit show for the AIDS Foundation of Houston. This project generated over $15,000 in gifts and donations, thanks to the assistance of CUZ & Company’s fundraiser chairwoman, Mary Lou Morales.

I created C.U.Z. (Classic, Urban, Zingy) Activewear to bring more attention to the CUZ & Company Brand and our Mission slogan, “Family plus friends times GOD equals Success!” (Family(+)Friends(x)GOD(=)Success). It also showcases my Designer Signature Logo that I created in the earlier days of my fashion career.

The big difference between designing couture one of a kind fashions back then and now creating CuzCo Caps, TShirts, Sweatshirts, Jackets, Hoodies, etc. for C.U.Z. Activewear is the pre-manufacturing of the products. The items are created by popular manufacturers and branded with my Designer Signature Logo via the CuzCo Logo, CuzCo Crest/Emblem/Insignia or a CuzCo Motif/Slogan. Coming Soon are Pillows, Mugs, Bags and much more. My Business partner, Art Borrego is one of the main driving force to the CUZ & Company Brand. He is now in the process of finding an investor to continue and build the C.U.Z. (Classic, Urban, Zingy) Activewear Line. My return to some couture designing is a strong possibility and truly anticipated by my former clients!

Please offer up some practical advice for individuals who are desiring to step into the world of fashion, whether it is couture, activewear, or otherwise. 

It takes what I call the three P’s to pursue any career in Fashion: Persistence, Patience & Passion. Fashion should be your passion and not just a hobby. Networking with people in Fashion and finding a muse to keep you inspired is very important. Surround yourself with individuals that will promote and encourage your dreams. Always keep yourself prepared for all opportunities by constantly learning and pursuing your craft. Having a financial backer or being financially able to step into the world of Fashion is definitely a plus.

There are so many styles of Fashion. I advise one to experiment and be willing to makes plenty of mistakes until you find your niche. Fads come and go but classics last forever! The use of Fashion to help people enhance their style is what fuels my creativity, and my faith in GOD along with his GRACE and MERCY keeps me pressing on!

Take some time and go to the Cuz & Company page & support a fashion legend!