As one of the youngest shoe designers on the list of luxury footwear brands, Ganesia Wveighlin is one to watch in the fashion industry. At just the age of 31, the designer’s expressive, bold and avant-garde footwear can be seen amongst the ranks of some of the most well-known luxury brands including Christian Louboutin, Gucci, and Balenciaga.
“I was inspired by a ‘crazy idea,'” Wveighlin told ESSENCE ironically about the foundation of CaesarWalks. “An idea that a black woman could create her own table in the male-dominated footwear market.” Not only is she the youngest footwear designer to own 100% of a shoe brand, which she accomplished at age 27 in 2017, but she is also a shoemaker. Following the launch of CaesarWalks nearly five years ago, Wveighlin went on to study shoemaking in 2019 with the intention of creating all of her designs by hand. While was first introduced to the art of footwear construction and pattern making in Brooklyn, she continued her studies in London, England.
The 6’1″ standing designer had original dreams of pursuing modeling and signing to Wilhemina Models at the young age of 16. Unfortunately, while her family did not fully support the idea, young Wveighlin kept her fire and passion for fashion alive by pursuing higher education to further her career. She later graduated with a degree in Economics at Clark Atlanta University.
Wveighlin kicked off the launch of CaesarWalks with the Saint Plousious loafer collection, customized with handmade Italian velour fabric loafer paired with an exquisite red silk insole. “Saint Plousious was said to be one of the first Black Roman Saints. He was named after the Greek word ‘plousios’ for ‘richly’ because he adorned himself with the finest fabrics,” she explained to ESSENCE about the significance of the collection’s name. “Maybe somewhere tucked in an old Italian primordial library, you will find a short chapter in a book of saints about him.”
ESSENCE caught up with Wveighlin about becoming one of the youngest luxury shoewear brand designers, representation in the footwear avenue, and the importance of a good shoe for any fit in Black luxury. Check out our conversation below.
ESSENCE: What sparked your interest in footwear, specifically luxury shoes?
Ganesia Wveighlin: I have always had an interest in shoes. I am all about the details and quality of a “thing”. Luxury shoes are known for their details and quality. No detail out of place, no thread unraveled, no smeared outsole glue visible. A shoe without blemish and perfect craftsmanship. My interest is in luxury as an “art” more than luxury as a “price”.
ESSENCE: In your opinion, what’s the importance of a good shoe for any fit?
Wveighlin: Coco Chanel said it best, “A woman with good shoes is never ugly”. That goes for men as well. Shoes are the number one fashion accessory that can give you instant confidence when you slip them on your feet.
ESSENCE: When you founded CaesarWalks, what were some of the biggest challenges of breaking into the fashion industry?
Wveighlin: I founded CaesarWalks as a thought when I was 27 turning 28. The biggest challenge for me was start up capital. At the time, I was a candidate for my Masters of Science degree with very little income.
ESSENCE: As a Black woman, how competitive is the luxury shoe industry and positioning your brand as a leading one?
Wveighlin: I wouldn’t say it’s competitive because I am a Black woman. It’s competitive because you have to continuously innovate to survive the industry. We have a competitive advantage in the market because it’s common knowledge that Black people are the number one fashion consumers in America. I don’ have to pay millions of dollars for research because I already know consumer behaviors of Black people because I am Black myself. Secondly, not many entrepreneurs are starting footwear brands and they are not “designing”. I’ve seen quite a few of the same shoes with another company’s logo. I love that our designs are unique.
ESSENCE: As one of the youngest shoe designers on the list of a luxury footwear brand, do you feel any pressure or experience ageism or underestimation?
Wveighlin: I don’t feel underestimated because of my age at all. In this era of fashion, like many before and to come, it’s trending around the “youth”. What we like. The pressure more so comes from my goal to shatter “glass ceilings” and to be as notable as my other luxury footwear brand counterparts. I understand I have my work cut out for me.