Karen Walker's Kenyan initiative
If you're buying a pair of Karen Walker shades this summer (and why wouldn't you? The colours! The shapes!) then you're in for a second dose of delight. The Kiwi designer has worked with the United Nations ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative so as to collaborate with local artisans in Kenya.
The project, called Visible, gathered Kenyan machinists, cutters, tailors and production managers to work on a collection of screen-printed pouches that will be included with every pair of Karen Walker Eyewear from summer 2014. More elaborate, beaded, pouches can be purchased separately.
The project fits in with the Ethical Fashion Initiatives ethos of work rather than aid with communities in both rural and urban parts of Kenya provided with paid work. Many of the workers were also featured in the (seriously great) campaign, shot by Derek Henderson, and were paid a talent fee.
Karen Walker is proud of the collaboration's commitment to providing actual and sustainable opportunities for this African community, as well as increasing the visibility of their work in a global sense.
"This work gives the women and men in these local communities a regular wage and the means to improve living conditions for their families. The E.F.I's motto is "Not Charity, Just Work" and their task is to promote sustainable business over aid dependency. We're delighted that this season's eyewear will be making a real and meaningful impact upon the people of this community," she says.
The campaign is something that Walker says exemplifies the essence, and goal, of the collaboration.
"This campaign captures both this innate optimism and love of maximum impact in the images themselves and also the way in which they direct our attention to this part of the world and the work being done there. The images help to bring visibility to this place, these people and the work of the Ethical Fashion Initiative," she says.
For Simone Cipriani from the Ethical Fashion Initiative, the relationship with Karen Walker was a good fit.
"From the very beginning, the relationship between the Ethical Fashion Initiative and Karen Walker was a very natural connection. Karen is a visionary and she clearly understood who we are and the potential of working in Africa with us. Everything about this project - which brings forward the positivity, dynamism and beauty of Africa - is in line with what we do," she says.
Walker says that she will continue to work with Ethical Fashion Initiative in the future.
"We're intending to continue our work with the EFI in 2014 and beyond and we're looking forward to expanding our work with them into new areas," she says.
The fact that the pouches are super cute is an added bonus, really.
- Daily Life