Fashion Designer Walter Baker began his career in finance, before launching his clothing brand over 20 years ago. Walter Baker is now a global brand with stockists including Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Nordstrom in the US. Heather Spindle caught up with Walter to find out how he built his brand, what advice he has for you, and what’s in store for the future.
So Walter, tell me a bit about the brand, how did it all start?
Walter is designed by me and is for beautiful, young, modern, contemporary women that want to look good all the time. We have clothing that works from day until evening. It could be worn to work. It could be worn out at night. It could be worn at the weekend. It could be worn to parties. We do leather jackets. We do denim coats – really, really beautiful dresses, denim, all types of printed dresses and blouses and jumpsuits and co-ords, all sorts of very cool stuff that most women love to wear.
What made you start the brand?
I have always loved clothing, and I decided to go into the business many years ago. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years and I love doing it every season, almost every month I come up with a new delivery of great new stuff, new trends, new colours, new styles – we do bags now which are amazing.
What made you choose womenswear over menswear?
Well I love dressing beautiful women, it’s a lot of fun for me and the market for women is huge. As you all know all girls like to get new outfits everyday…Guys aren’t, as you know, anxious to buy new clothes, but girls constantly. They are always looking for something new, it’s a little bit more of an advantageous market.
You’ve had some amazing celebrity endorsements. I’ve seen on your website that there are celebrities wearing your clothes. Who would you describe as the epitome of the ultimate Walter girl?
I think my favourite celebrity of all time that has worn my stuff is Blake Lively. She’s tall, beautiful, amazing body and she epitomises the brand a 100%, she’s the Walter girl. The rest of them are great too but she’s my favourite.
So what advice would you give to any designers who are just starting out?
It’s a very, very hard business. We have to come up with new designs on a monthly basis. Fashion changes all the time and there are so many different fabrications and styles and looks. So my advice is be prepared for a lot of hard work, a lot of hours – it’s 24/7. I work every single day. I work on the weekends. I work at night. I get up at two in the morning. I work with all my factories in the Far East and in India, early in the mornings; you have to be ahead of it before the day even starts. It’s not easy, you have to really be motivated and into it.
How to go about finding the factories that you choose to work with, is that something you personally chose?
I work with a lot of different factories and I am constantly meeting new factories all the time. When you are a major brand like I am they contact you constantly for business. Because it’s all about business, everyone wants to do business.
Where can people get hold of the brand, in the US and the UK?
In the US we are available in all major department stores, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Saks, Lord and Taylor, lots of specialist stores all over the country. We are available online, on all the flash sites all the time. In the UK: Net-A-Porter, Outnet, ASOS, all of those Internet companies have our brands and they do really good. We do really good business in the UK, we get a lot of hits on our website everyday from the UK.
What are your thoughts on UK style vs US style?
My favourite city in the whole world is London. I think the women there are very hip – they are cool, like you. But you would look like that if you lived in New York or in London. I think the women in the UK are really trendy. When I go to London I always get great ideas when I walk around the streets – I just look at all the females – all the girls there are just like hot and happening and they are one step ahead. It’s very inspirational. I go to Italy and Paris and other European cities but London is always my favourite. I love it.
Do you think British Style tends to be more creative because there is less of a focus on business within the education of fashion in the UK, as opposed to the US?
Yes absolutely. Like you said the people that train – I have had many interns that come from London. They are always a little edgier, a little cooler. Here in the US it is more about business, about getting a job, you know – doing whatever they have to do. So, the people from London are a little bit more innovative and a little bit more creative. I think the training here is also a bit better than here. Because there are a lot of design schools here but I think that the girls and guys that come from London are one step ahead.
So what’s the future for Walter? Tell us about the next collection and fashion week.
Well – the future for Walter is really hot right now. We are doing amazing. We have expanded our leather and outerwear, which has really taken off in an amazing way. I mean people are flipping out over it. The handbag collection that we just introduced is awesome, all beautiful hardwear and leather, suede, knapsacks, shoulder bags, all kinds of cool stuff.
What’s your favourite piece of the collection? If you could choose just one piece…
I have a new motorcycle jacket that I just introduced that is AMAZING – it’s my favourite piece.
You are known for your leathers.
I would say it would be the clutch that we have in suede, in black suede, with fringe and with a cross body strap – it’s removable – it’s got it all. I love it.
Sounds great. So if you could choose one music style or one song that sums up the Walter brand what would it be?
Oh my god. I love Adele she’s my favourite. I love ‘Hello’ – it’s great, she just keeps talking to me.
Yep, Adele is brilliant.
Is that a good answer for a British girl?
It’s a good answer.
Or Coldplay, I love them too.
It’s all about the Brits.
I always really get into a new album. The first one that Adele brought out I played like a hundred times. And when the coldplay came out it was the same. I get so interested, that I keep playing it over and over again. I do that on my iPhone with the headphones.
Maybe Adele will be the next Walter girl…?