Fashion designer Ken Walker opens store in Midtown Detroit – Crain’s Detroit Business


Four years after establishing his brand online, Detroit fashion designer Ken Walker is set to open a brick-and-mortar retail space in one of the city’s bustling neighborhoods.

The K. Walker Collective flagship store will open its doors to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday in an 1,700-square-foot space at 4161 Cass Ave. — the former Cass Collective Detroit. The store will feature items from Walker’s line that include sweatshirts, polos, hats, bottoms, hoodies and windbreakers.

“While K. Walker Collective has been prominently available online, I’m now in an overcrowded market where other clothing brands are fighting for the same attention and sometimes the same consumer,” Walker said in an email to Crain’s. “I believe a premium lifestyle brand should offer an exceptional omni-channel experience, so having a physical place for me to immerse my customers is pivotal.”

Walker, a graduate of the Detroit School of Arts and Michigan State University, earlier this year partnered with Detroit Pistons G-League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, on a uniform design.

“Since launching (the collection) in 2018, I always envisioned the K. Walker store being right in the neighborhood and not in the suburban malls — that are typically filled with stores that do not always reflect the demographic and eclectic tastes of a fashion-forward local Detroit native,” Walker said in the email.

Walkerhas invested $105,000 to get the store up and running: $60,000 of his own money and $45,000 from Motor City Match, Tech Town’s retail boot camp, Black Leaders Detroit and Citi Trends Black History Makers. Walker expects to bring in $40,000 in revenue this year and $250,000 in 2023.

Fully staffed, K. Walker Collective will have 14 employees. Three internship positions will be available next year, as well, Walker said.

The internships are part of Walker’s involvement with youths interested in fashion. Walker is a career exploration volunteer at the Detroit Phoenix Center, a nonprofit that supports young people. He is also an adjunct professor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where he teaches a fashion brand management elective. One of Walker’s goals is to offer apprenticeship programs for high school seniors and students from Wayne State, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan universities.

“I want my store to be a beacon of hope and a creative hub for the youth,” said Walker, who presented at New York Fashion Week in 2019. “Community is at the core of what I do.”

But expansion is also part of Walker’s plans. He expects to grow nationally, with his sights set on Chicago, Harlem or Soho in New York, Atlanta, London and Paris.

The K. Walker Collective will be open noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and by appointment on Sundays.

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