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Industry veteran Kenneth A. Walker, whose twisty career has taken him from store architect to brand consulting, licensing and lecturing, has a new title. He’s operating partner-innovation at Marvin Traub Associates.
This story first appeared in the January 17, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The people at MTA have tremendous experience, yet each has a well-focused expertise for the most part geared to the operational side of businesses. But I am all about the revenue side, the customer experience,” Walker said. “Everything I do is in the visual world.”
Walker said his mantra is innovation and that at MTA, he can work with different partners in a range of activities from restructuring to supply chain management, merchandising malls and remaking brands. “I will be cutting across a lot of the disciplines. I am a collaborator. You know, I never had a private office,” he said.
At MTA, Walker has been developing a concept book for Massif, a manufacturer of military garb and tactical and rescue gear for elite U.S. combat units that’s introducing a men’s fashion collection. The book will feature the elements for in-store and freestanding shop concepts, and all the visual cues, details and fabrics that distinguish the brand, such as red, which is used as an accent in all the garments. “Massif makes these incredibly high-tech clothes for the military. We don’t want to overplay that, but we are expressing it through some rather subtle things. When you think about the military, you think about guns, ammo and killing. But you can also think about technology and precision.”
He also hopes to work on mall-related projects, considering Related Cos. and Value Retail, two developers, are clients. “Malls have to rethink the purposes they serve,” meaning that along with stores, restaurants and movies, they could operate medical facilities and learning centers.
In 1970, he founded Walker Group, the architectural and design firm acquired by WPP Group in 1987. In 1993, Walker established Retail Options, a coalition of retailers that pooled funds to buy and expand brands but disbanded after the economy soured. Walker later created 01-01-00 The Mark of the Millennium, a vehicle for licensing millennium-related products. He also served as vice chairman of FutureBrand, a consulting and design firm; creative director of Asbury Automotive Group, and has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard, MIT and the Architectural Association in London.