Greg Gaten Taylor, owner of Walish Gooshe, makes adjustments to a dress that is part of his spring-summer 2012 collection. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

Opening a storefront last fall during a down economy was an ambitious move on Taylor’s part, but he wanted his customers to be able to touch and feel his clothing — something he couldn’t always do when he sold clothes online in 2009.

“I thought it was important for the customer to actually see the lifestyle around my clothes,” he says. Being in Washington doesn’t hurt, either. “I’d definitely rather [be] here than New York,” says Taylor. “You can make an impact here.”

Born in Northeast, Taylor, 27, grew up attending school in Hyattsville. “I was always into fashion,” says Taylor, who gained an early exposure from the wardrobe of his sister, who died in 2003. “She always made me want to step out of the box and design something for her.”

He began sketching in elementary school but became serious about his talent when he chose to attend the Art Institute of Philadelphia for college. There, he was able to learn the technical skills of piecing together clothing, expanding upon his small-time knowledge of using bleach and safety pins for enhancement. He switched from design to marketing after four months.”I saved a lot of money and cut a lot of corners learning that marketing aspect,” he says of his classes, which taught him the ins and outs of running a business. He modeled his first clothing business after an idea for a pet store he created for his senior project. He opened an office and later a showroom space once he graduated from the three-year program in 2005.


Model Amy Stewart in a yellow Walish Gooshe dress, designed by Greg Gaten Taylor. (Photo by Leonard Poteat)

Ward 4 councilwoman Muriel Bowser cuts the ribbon of store Walish Gooshe with designer Greg Gaten Taylor at the store opening in October 2011. (Photo by Melanie Joy Wilson)

Now that he’s arrived, he wants customers to know that you don’t have to head down Wisconsin Avenue to find a great look. “Everybody thinks that you have to go to Georgetown to find a really nice, well-put-together look, or to get that atmosphere. You can get that not far away from Silver Spring,” he says.

He moved into a space formerly occupied by Annie’s Boutique, which still stands next door, and opened with a ribbon cutting by Ward 4 councilwoman Muriel Bowser. “That was a great introduction,” he says. “I’m happy to be here.”

For now, Taylor, who offers personal styling and custom tailoring and design, is focusing on launching a trendier, lower-priced line (his other clothing runs between $150 and $350 ), “WG for Walish Gooshe,” in the fall. He would also like to get his clothes on the back of one woman in particular. “I think she’s a very fashion-forward woman, and there’s a lot of fashion-forward women in D.C.,” he says of the first lady. As the landscape of the Washington fashion scene continues to evolve, Taylor feels that his store, currently open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and by appointment, is perfect for all Washington women. “I want the customer to know that they can get a full look within a reasonable price,” he says. “There’s a lot of personal style here now. I don’t think people are going by any type of code [any] more.”

“Consumers are wearing whatever they want to wear now, which is a good thing.”

As he continues to move forward with his business, Taylor continues to hold the memory and words of his sister close to everything he chooses to pursue. “I always hear her in my head when things get tough — she’s always telling me, ‘If it was that easy, everybody’d be doing it.’ That always keeps me going.”