The London-bred designer knew by the age of 5 that she wanted to be a fashion designer. Correction: she was going to be a fashion designer. She would play dress up in her mom’s closet for hours, putting the most fabulous outfits together one after another. A few decades later, the young talent has launched her self-named luxury-clothing brand, Chantell Walters. Focused on embracing both femininity and innovation, Walters uses sharp tailoring and striking aesthetics to created her defined look for women looking to make a statement with their fashion.
EBONY: Can you tell us more about your formal training?
Chantell Walters: I actually have a degree from the world-renowned London College of Fashion. Shortly after my degree I had my son, which made me really focus on creating my own business and making sure he had a secure future. I really spend my time researching my industry, going to short courses, analyzing my competitors, creating collections and using social media to contact people in the industry. I’m extremely focused in all realms of fashion.
EBONY: Who is your ideal customer?
CW: My ideal customer is a woman like Solange Knowles or Alexa Chung. She is a woman that is confident enough to set trends and not be a slave to them. She likes to look effortlessly cool whilst shopping or going to the park with her children.
EBONY: How has the fashion world treated you as a Black designer?
CW: The fashion world has been OK to me. Most people that I contact respond really well. The only challenge I have faced has been the UK fashion industry. I have found it difficult to get sponsored to have a show at London Fashion Week. I think it has something to do with not being connected to the right industry people. If you are not the latest amazing designer out of university, it is harder for you to get noticed.
I am not sure if my race has anything to do with me not getting into the major shows. There is a lack of Black designers that show on schedule throughout all of the major fashion weeks across the world. There are a lot of talented Black designers out there, and I feel that it is important for their work to be seen. This is why it is great that Brandice Henderson has events like Harlem’s Fashion Row. I believe that if I continue to work hard, the fashion industry will embrace my brand, because my products are good and fill a gap in the market.
EBONY: What has been the most rewarding feeling along your journey?
CW: I have been able to travel to New York six times on my own to network with people. All of my hard work really seems to be paying off. I was part of Zone4 INC’s charity fashion show in Atlanta in 2012. I even dressed Tamar Braxton for the cover of Kontrol magazine, and I recently showed during New York Fashion Week through Harlem’s Fashion Row at the Apollo. I am a very positive person and I will never give up on my dreams. Thus far that has been the most rewarding part: seeing the magic unfold.
EBONY: What are your future goals for the line?
CW: I recently launched my online shop, www.chantellwalters.co.uk. I am currently working on my Spring/Summer 2014 collection, which I will be presenting at New York Fashion Week in September. If things go well, I’m hoping to move to New York City.