Aaron Walton is an award-winning advertising executive who has gained recognition for crossing over into the fashion industry as a model in his early sixties. With a genuine love for fashion, his life’s work eventually led to him modeling in both Paris and Tokyo Fashion Week.
Walton opened up about how fashion design relates to marketing.
How did you transition from marketing to fashion?
Well, it’s really interesting. I don’t think of myself as having a career in fashion. I’ve always been passionate about it. I’ve always loved following designers. Fashion to me is another expression of storytelling. The way I ended up walking in Paris and Tokyo [Fashion Week], was my [public relations] team said, “Hey, we need some new headshots and I honestly was like, “here we go again.”
Most of the corporate headshots I saw were what I call sophisticated high school yearbook photos. I was like, “Well, OK, we’ll do it but I want to do something that is more reflective of who I really am and I love fashion.” I reached out to a good friend of mine named Kal Yee. He’s an amazing fashion photographer. I said to Kal, “I know this is below your pay grade but would you do me a favor and take a headshot of me? He goes, “Oh my god. Sure.” I had been reading a magazine and I saw this amazing suit that will.i.am, had been wearing and I started reading this article. … Kal said, “Where’s the suit from?” I said it was from a designer named Rynshu. Kal looked at me and said, “I shoot for Rynshu.” I literally was like, “Oh my god, great. Do me a favor. Reach out to him and see if you can get this suit for me. I really want to wear it.” Rynshu was in Tokyo at the time and so he reached out to him, Rynshu sent the suit, Kal took the photo, and sent it back to Rynshu, and Rynshu said to Kal, “I like your friend’s look very much. Would [he] be interested in walking in my show in Paris? [When] Kal told me that, I said, “Wait a minute, are you asking a Black gay man if he wants to walk in a show in Paris during Men’s Fashion Week?” It wasn’t something I had ever aspired to do, but I did it and I thought, “Well, this was fun.” I’ve done now I think 17 or 18 shows for him.
How is fashion design similar to marketing?
I think that connecting points is really about how you kind of find those moments where that story comes together in a beautiful way, that touches the hearts, the minds, and the spirit of the audience that you’re looking for. What really blows me away about walking in a fashion show is it’s quick. Most people don’t realize it’s 20 minutes and it’s over. The designer has 20 minutes to present their entire collection, and we have 30 seconds in ads, oftentimes to present the brand that we want people to get excited about. And so there’s a bit of adrenaline that goes with that there’s a bit of excitement. But when it comes together really well and the story is laid out, [there’s] nothing better.