Back in the the ‘90s, Walker Wear was all the rage. Hip-hop artists from 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. to Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg could be spotted in outfits from the custom clothing line, launched by April Walker in 1990 in Brooklyn, New York. She carved out a substantial niche in the male-dominated world of urban/street wear, but after a fast rise in the fashion world Walker decided to venture out into other arenas. Now after a few years off the scene, fashion has called her back. Walker relaunched the line last year. And she is gearing up for a major second coming.
TNJ.com: Why relaunch now?
April Walker: The timing feels right. Walker Wear is a heritage brand and my inspiration was because hip hop had such a profound effect on my life and career. I wanted to start connecting "new school and old school" or bridging the gap through fashion.
TNJ.com: How did you fund the relaunch?
AW: The relaunch was an independent venture (self-financed). Also, I was fortunate enough to have great relationships with factories and experienced people which helped me with the production immensely.
TNJ.com: What lessons have you learned from your experience in the fashion business?
AW: I grew up in this business so there were many lessons. Biggest takeaways: I have learned not to make decisions based on your emotions. I've really learned about the power of discernment, and also to trust your instincts always. The biggest lesson is that sometimes you have to take a step back to gain a clear perspective, or see the realm of new possibilities.
TNJ.com: How do you compete with the growing competition?
AW: I don't try to compete with the competition that is constantly evolving...that's way too much pressure. I compete with myself to be the best that I can be, keep my eye on the prize, and I constantly remind myself that this is a gift, and I get to do what I love every day..that is my motivation, so I can keep doing it.
TNJ.com: What are your goals for the new Walker Wear line?
AW: My goal for this year is to increase the brand awareness online and offline in marketing. I want to continue to grow online at our store (with sales for Walker Wear), and I want to gain a few great retail partnerships, domestically and abroad. My long term goal for Walker Wear is to "bridge the gap" of generations through our clothing. We will be locally grown, and internationally known, providing style and classics with quality.
TNJ.com: What are some of the obstacles you faced with the relaunch?
AW: The obstacles I faced is that things are very different (in the age of technology). There wasn't an urban/streetwear fashion category that was a multi-billion dollar industry when I started. The biggest difference though is that people seemed to be more connected, so it was easier to market to them. We got to know our customers. Today in this environment, you have to be creative online and offline.
TNJ.com: How has the fashion industry changed singe your first debut?
AW: The fashion industry has changed in many ways and is the same in others. It's cyclical. Trends always come back around, just remixed a little differently. The Internet has allowed consumers to be exposed to so many more choices in real time, along with viewing fashion from a global platform, and you can sell online and offline. We didn't have options like this, or access to an infinite amount of digital consumers that we could interact with 15 or 20 years ago.
TNJ.com: How do you use social media to advance your line?
AW: Social media can be a beast. You have to establish your brand presence, choosing social media vehicles that are a good fit for your brand and demographic. You can't be all things to all people. For Walker Wear, having a visual medium like Instagram helps us to showcase our fashion and Facebook has been great in connecting our story and letting our fans know who we are and what we represent.
TNJ.com: What do you enjoy the most about the business?
AW: I enjoy creating. I am a creative being and visionary so that is the blessing for me...taking a seed and watching it sprout makes my day. I enjoy the idea phase, the formation phase, and once it becomes tangible for the world to participate, I enjoy watching people get satisfaction from these products that were once just ideas.