Elyse Walker shares about her start in fashion, her New York Fashion Week experience and her love of helping people feel and look their best.
Elyse Walker, the founder of the successful luxury apparel company by the same name, had her first taste of the industry at a young age while working on the sales floor of her mother’s shoe store—but she didn’t have an immediate passion for fashion.
“I went to college and I studied mathematics and I really thought that I could see myself working on Wall Street,” Walker says. “At that time, my mom got ovarian cancer and passed away when she was 42. I helped her when she was sick with her stores, which I knew like the back of my hand, I knew all the customers and I knew all the staff.”
“I inherited my small-but-mighty little family business that had a nice shoe following, so I have been in fashion since 1983, but I opened my first store when I was 20-years-old in 1987,” she added.
Following Walker’s early success in the fashion industry, she started her renowned company elysewalker in 1999, which has since expanded to seven stores in California, two soon-to-be opened stores in New York City and a newly launched digital store, elysewalker.com. The elysewalker store features curated apparel, jewelry and accessories from the top luxury brands and fashion designers.
Despite her success in style, Walker says she doesn’t take fashion too seriously—but she loves her job and that it provides her with a unique opportunity to help people feel and look their best.
“I don’t take fashion that seriously, yet, I think it’s such a powerful tool,” Walker says. “If you walk into a meeting, you’re hosting a luncheon or you’re just going out on a Friday night, you could be wearing your frumpy jeans or you could be wearing a new high rise flare and it can make a difference.”
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“I’m ignited by the idea that you can actually make someone feel really good, and when they feel good it can open doors for them,” Walker says. “It’s something I’ve been doing my entire life and it’s not all glamorous, but I know social media tends to make the fashion industry look very glamorous.”
While beautiful dinners, runway shows and feathered sequin handbags are certainly a glamorous part of her career, there are also hard moments, like styling someone who is going through a tough time in their life.
“Sometimes, people are in a slump, sometimes they’re going through a divorce, sometimes they’re unfortunately going through cancer, there’s lots of reasons to style and help someone with their wardrobe, it’s not just the red carpet,” Walker says. “It keeps me going, it keeps me waking up every morning super excited to take on the new day.”
“I don’t take fashion that seriously, yet, I think it's such a powerful tool,” Walker says. “If you walk into a meeting, you're hosting a luncheon or you're just going out on a Friday night, you could be wearing your frumpy jeans or you could be wearing a new high rise flare and it can make a difference.”
To stay up-to-date on the latest trends to share with elysewalker customers, the fashion-forward founder attends the New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks each year, and she recently attended the runway at New York Fashion Week’s fall event.
“It was the best New York Fashion Week I have ever experienced in my life. I know that’s a big statement, but I really believe it,” Walker says. “It was so full of energy, the restaurants were hopping, there were people on the streets. I’m a New Yorker, so I love it there.”
“Everyone was warm and friendly, it was collaborative, I saw people dressing up on the street because it was New York Fashion Week and people being photographed all over the place. I think that what I saw is that people are out there so happy to be out of their homes and they’re so happy to be going to events and dressing up again and that a lot of fashion from New York was very celebratory,” she added.
When it comes to dressing up, the New York-native says you can look at the trends, but ultimately, you should wear what works best for you and makes you feel good.
“We’re seeing new excitement on basics, oversized blazers, citrus colors, wide leg pants, a lot of velvet, texture and some classic silhouettes,” Walker says.”People like to say to me and my team, ‘does that mean I need to put my skinny jeans away?’ and the answer is no, if you love your skinny jeans and you feel that you look good in them and you’re comfortable in them, and if you don’t feel good in a big wide leg and then you shouldn’t wear it.”