Visible– the latest collection by the New Zealand based designer Karen Walker– features the Kenyan artisans in its Spring 2014 campaign which has been launched recently.
For her latest collection, Karen Walker has collaborated with the United Nations to produce eye-wear pouches that will come with every pair of Karen Walker sunglasses. The models of this very campaign are the maker of these completely hand-made pouches, who belong to a small African community. The campaign was photographed by Derek Henderson.
To take the project one step further, Ms Walker put the artisans who crafted each pouch in front of the camera, using them as the stars of her new campaign. The micro-artisans pictured include machinists, cutters, tailors, production managers and metal workers as well as members of the Maasai group who create the more elaborate beading work. Enjoy the pictures of the campaign and some behind the scene shoots which all have been sourced from different sites:
Gold – rich with glitter, gold filigree and reflective gold lenses – sits alongside intense turquoise, lavender and tangerine, as well as the designer’s signature tortoise-shell, for the new collection.
The simple, screen-printed pouches will be included with every pair of Karen Walker Eyewear from the Summer 2014 season through all 500 global stockists.
Kappoka Ole Ndilai (left) and Rason Ene Saponyo (right) from the Maasai Group, who specialize in beading, were photographed by Derek Henderson for the campaign.
The pair we captured in their rural village in Kenya, where the Ethical Fashion Initiative enables micro-producers and designers to create specialty products and share it with international brands and distributors. ‘From the very beginning, the relationship between the Ethical Fashion Initiative and Karen Walker was a very natural connection,’ said Simone Cipriani of the Ethical Fashion Initiative.
The micro-artisans pictured live in both urban and rural areas of Kenya. Here, Mr Henderson photographs Alex, an assistant on the pouch production, in a make-shift studio.
Walker speaks to Vogue Australia about her latest campaign and her work with the UN which has been published in the online version of the magazine just like this:
How did you start working with the UN?
We worked on a project with the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative in 2012 to create a bag to sell throughout Myer stores in Australia and we were thrilled with how the bag looked. Following on from that, in mid 2013, Simone and I were both invited to speak at the Bespoke conference at the Sydney Opera House and, over dinner, we discussed the idea of working with his team in this bigger way.
Each eyewear campaign is always new and exciting. How do you constantly evolve and come up with new campaign concepts for each season?
It’s intuitive mainly. We just use our imaginations, take away any limitations and know when it feels right.
What advice do you have for young, emerging designers to be involved with ethically-aware production practices?
You need to be prepared to be collaborative and work with people’s skills and available materials and develop your own designs around this framework. You need to work with people collaboratively and out of that you’ll come up with something new.
‘This campaign. . . directs our attention to this part of the world and the work being done there. In short, the images help to bring visibility to this place, these people and the work of the Ethical Fashion Initiative,’ said Ms Walker.