SAN FRANCISCO—Wilkes Bashford, a world renowned clothier from San Francisco, died at the age of 82 on Saturday, January 16. Bashford had suffered from prostate cancer.
Bashford was known for his self-titled clothing chain, which he created over four decades ago in 1966. To many, he was the man who changed the fashion scene in San Francisco, and was the first to bring designer brands to the city. Bashford built his empire from his passion of proliferating new and well-known brands throughout the city and educating the fashion forward minds of the city.
His Union Square store has remained an icon in the city since it’s inaugural year of opening, and was known for his fashion shows that supported local organizations that worked together to end domestic violence and organizations advocating animal adoption. Bashford was a prominent figure in San Francisco, and was known to contribute to fundraising efforts across the city.
Bashford was said to have been working up until the last few weeks of his life, when he reportedly was weakened so severely by the cancer that he lost 50 pounds. His friends say his life was his work, and remember him working at least six days each week.
In addition to fashion, Bashford was also a distinguished member of the War Memorial Complex committee, and served as president of the Board of Trustees of the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center Board of San Francisco. His philanthropic efforts went on to create a polished 30-foot basalt stone memorial in the shape of a divided octagon surrounded by a large reflecting pool. The memorial was created in honor of war veterans starting from World War I, with approximately $2.5 million in private donations funding the efforts to build the memorial.
The construction of the memorial was one of Bashford’s last legacies, which was greatly publicized throughout the city. The memorial was a controversial topic, which many veterans argued came eight decades too late. The memorial is located at the site of the War Memorial Opera House, and was debuted at the 2015 Fleet Week. To many, Bashford’s fashionable, philanthropic legacy will always be remembered as a prominent part of San Francisco’s splendor.