PARIS WALKER III
Charles "Champ" Walker's
The Beginning of the "New Age Prep" movement
Champ Walker's passion for fashion was developed at an early age where he was influenced by an unlikely combination and culture of traditional southern aristocratic roots and soul. The Masters, "the most prestigious Sports tournament held in Augusta" has a great influence of how Augustans dressed. But native Augustan James Brown, of course, the "God Father of Soul" was no more traditional than the average African American who was striving to make ends meet. Augusta, however, was unique in that regardless of race, class or socio-economic status, most people dressed preppie. Charles "Champ" Walker was born in the projects but grew up in the bottom, a sort of middle class neighborhood and eventually moved to the hill where most members of the Augusta National live - a rather wealthy and exclusive neighborhood in Augusta. Because of his upbringing, he has a round rounded perspective of "hard times" and the "good life." When you pair the Country club and James Brown, which are at opposite extremes, you get Soul-Prep. This concept of preppy garb with a twist of cultural preference emulating the good life filled the missing void wherein traditional clothiers excluded minorities. Ralph Lauren nor Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Nautica would never use Kente in which Walker has Termed "African Plaid" on preppy garments. Both Dr. Alvin Pouissant, Harvard professor and consultant to the Cosby show, and music and clothing Mogul Russell Simmons, agree with Walker. See New York Times article "Hold the polo." As a pioneer and authority on multicultural Preppy fashions, Walker has authored his Second book called "Prep 101" - The battle for social rank and status. This masterpiece is a lifestyle guide that reveals the secrets of the upper crust and how the off springs of immigrants have changed preppie fashions forever. Mr. Walker ten years ago, predicted the fashion takeover that we see today and has tapped into a fashion and cultural revolution that has redefined prep. This prep is a "New Age Prep," those who do not come from old stock nor have generational wealth, but who are proud of their heritage and are Prepared 4 Power regardless of their upbringing or social status. This "New Age Prep movement" has been heavily influenced by inner city youth, Hip- Hopper’s and urbanites representing the diverse interest of Americana. Mr. Walker noted that preppy garb would undergo fabric, size and color changes based upon the ethnic influences and lifestyles. One of Mr. Walkers favorite sayings is, "We may all live in America, but We Don't Play Polo." The "We" being that of the "We" in the preamble to the constitution - those who live and succeed on their own terms and conditions.
Paris Walker III, the redefined collection of traditional sportswear features ethnic motifs that serve as symbols of pride, culture and the good life- As one reporter wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution , Paris Walker "A revisionist line of preppy clothing has tapped into preppy vein and a gold mine.
The powerful and emotive symbols and isignia's that adorn the Paris Walker III collection include:
The Heritage Crest, the First African American Crest which has been endorsed by the foremost civil and human rights organizations representing over 60 million people
Denykem - the West African Andinkra symbol of a crocodile (Denkyem) called "Denykem" by Champ Walker Means - a crocodile lives in water, yet it breathes air, demonstrating an ability to adapt to many different environments and circumstances.
Urban Polo- a satirical play on one of Europe's elite sporting events, this logo features a person of color, representing a multicultural society, riding a polo pony with a baseball bat in their hand. Signifying that we like the "good life" but we chose to enjoy it, based upon our unique cultural experience
His father, former Senator Charles Walker, Sr. was one of the most successful minority businessmen in the Southeast and was considered the most powerful black politician in Georgia. Charles Sr. served in the general assembly for over 25 years, first as a state representative and then as the first black state senate majority leader in the nation.
As a kid Champ wore a color-coded uniform while attending pre-school and kindergarten, respectively, Big Pine and Immaculate Conception - a catholic private school. At both schools, he had to wear a uniform which consisted of blue and white and blue and green. He grew up wearing clothes with symbols and logos. The logo for the preschool was a green pine tree. His sense of fashion and lifestyle was reinforced by an overwhelming fashion consciousness that came along with living in the city that has the most prestigious golf tournament in the world and a mother that had the class and taste of Jackie O, President John F. Kennedy's wife.
THE BRIGHT IDEA: How it all started
The influence of 'Afrocentric Preppy or Dress Smart' took center stage when Mr. Walker met with J.C Penny's manager who wanted to get Champ's opinion about the store chain opening up boutiques that would carry traditional African Garb such as dashiki's, couffies, sashes and other festive attire. Mr. Walker informed the managers that his experience was that African Americans, especially in the south, were more Americanized and dressed more mainstream than most of their counterparts imagined. The meeting took a turn when Mr. Walker illustrated how even Cross Colours, though highly popular, had alienated the conservative segment of people of color. The moment of truth came when Mr. Walker was explaining how African Americans during the Cultural Revolution, that started in the early nineties, created a need for cultural expression, but not in a way that was distinctly African, however, Afro centric.
Champ left the meeting excited as ever before because he realized that his opportunity had come and that the timing was perfect to create a collection that fit his taste in clothing, but offered him a way to express his identity and pride which he now refers to as "Cultural Preference." After the Meeting, he went home and pulled some magazines and catalogs that featured preppie styled garments such as LL Bean, J Crew and Lands End. He reviewed the styles and the next day purchased similar garments and had them altered to his design concept. He took traditional preppy looks and added the popular fabric Kente which was popular at the time, and applied it subtly to button down shirts around the collar and the cuffs, polo shirts with the print in the placket and neck band, and Khaki's with Kente in the waistband. However, there was one missing ingredient. Since most preppy lines had logos, Champ knew that imagery and association with Money was one component that has to be added, so he thought at the time.
TRULY FOR US BY US: The Logo and Slogan Has Meaning
After thinking about the logo, he realized that African Americans had a different set of values, or at least needed a newfound set of values. Though the Afro centric clothing concept took only a couple of days to finalize, the search for an insignia took months. Upon a conversation with some of his colleagues, he realized that the reason selecting a logo was difficult, was that there were very few, if any symbols, that spoke to wealth or country club living wherein blacks could identify or participate. Thus came his infamous slogan, "We Don't Play Polo": for he discovered that the sport was typically played during the week day around 2pm while most people, regardless of ethnicity, was working, trying to make a living. Ever mindful that people of color were excluded from these types of activities, instead of creating a logo that rebelled against the establishment, he researched symbols that would speak to cultural pride and dignity. He discovered through a conversation from a researcher at the Stromberg Research Institute that there has never been an African American Crest or coat of arms that represented the African American race as a family unit. The Heritage crest is a powerful symbol that tells the story of a cultures struggle to overcome mental, physical and spiritual bondage. Mr. Walker set up a non profit foundation called the Heritage Crest Foundation whose goal is to promote the common bond that all people share. The colors in the Heritage Crest change to reflect various cultures and their history and struggle.
Thus, people of color, and not just African Americans can now claimed their own Heritage Crest - the First African American Crest ever. To date, after years of trial and tribulations the Heritage Crest has been endorsed by the foremost Civil Rights organizations in the country to include the SCLC, NAACP, Rainbow Push Coalition, Urban League, 100 Black Men of America, Promise Keepers, National Council of La Raza and many others. In addition, The Heritage Crest was unveiled and is part of the Anacostia Smithsonian Museum collection.
OWNER/DESIGNER: Charles "Champ" Walker
Paris Walker was created by Charles "Champ" Walker Jr., of Augusta Georgia. As a 2002 congressional nominee and one of the nations young emerging 100 leaders, he has operated one of the largest minority owned staffing firms in the southeast and served as President and C.O.O. of the Walker Group, a family owned company that has holdings in the publishing, construction, restaurant and temporary employment service industries. In addition, Mr. Walker was President of Romar Entertainment and Senior Vice President / Marketing and Business Development of Romar Studios - the largest minority owned apparel manufacturer in the United States with over 100 million dollars in revenue.
Mr. Walker has developed or have worked extensively to raise capital for, create concepts or landed deals for the foremost major accounts such as NASCAR, Motown's (Hidden Dreams collection) Ryan Kenny, Rowdy, Lisa Raye, Zen, Coca Cola, Dap Rugget (part owner) Gaina Luca (Jagged Edge's clothing label), Kelis Rogers (Cakemaker) collection, Eclectic and many other celebrities and fortune five hundred entities. While at Romar Mr. Walker grew the employee base by 50% percent and set up the only full service manufacturing, marketing/creative and entertainment firm in the U.S.
Mr. Walker is considered a visionary, has extensive experience in growing companies and oversees several companies. Currently, he is CEO of Bright Ideas and AFI Inc. As CEO of Bright Ideas he provides direction to business developers who raise money for startups and existing firms, as well as, provide idea consulting for business development and growth. Bright Ideas has ownership in several entities and has been responsible for landing over 1 billion dollars in contracts.
Mr. Walker has a unique talent in marketing slogans and concepts and ideas. He is responsible for the nationally renowned Don't Vote, Don't Complain campaign, created the slogan that captivated major retail stores "We Don't Play Polo." And brought back the popular boycott term "Don't Pay to be Disrespected." He is a popular talk show host on "the Other Side of the Story" which airs weekdays Monday through Friday on WKZK 1600 AM. In addition, he has received a prestigious marketing award for creating a mainstream commercial marketing Kia, a low price vehicle, to the hip hop market. Sales grew by 70% percent within two weeks times.
AFI, Aristocratic Fashion International, Inc., has holdings in the Paris Walker III Collection of multicultural preppy garb. Mr. Walker has used his experience in the apparel industry to create this newly formed company to serve as mega one-stop design, manufacturing and creative marketing firm - One of the only of its kind. In addition, as a minority owned company in the Apparel Industry and with Mr. Walker reputation in the entertainment fashion and political world, the company has attracted celebrity driven labels, which will greatly increase the success of AFI and its Investors.
Mr. Walker also created the new tagline "We Feel Good" which was approved unanimously by the Augusta-Richmond County, GA's Board of Commissioners on July 26th, 2005. He captured the Soul of the city and its greatest attributes being a thriving medical community that is known for its renowned research and saving lives, the Godfather's song "I Feel Good," representing Augusta music and quality of life, and the great recreational activities such as Golf, canal tours and southern hospitality that make people "Feel Good."
Some facts about Paris Walker III
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