Kenyan Artists Model New Karen Walker Eyewear

New Zealand designer Karen Walker has worked with Kenyan artists to design and model her Spring collection

By Jamie Khoo | Published: 4 Feb 2014

KW Goes To Kenya
Photo: Karen Walker

We couldn’t help but sit up and notice Karen Walker’s Spring 2014 campaign. She’s always been one to challenge the fashion world with bold, unexpected imagery and models so there’s always something to look forward to. We’re pleasantly surprised yet again with her most recent Spring campaign which shines the spotlight on Kenyan artists who contributed to the collection.

Karen keeps thing real, featuring the actual machinists, cutters, tailors, metal workers and production managers who worked on the line. This campaign arises out of a collaboration between Karen and the United Nation’s ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, which encourages the development of sustainable businesses over purely giving and receiving aid. Working with the tagline, “Not charity, just work”, this project creates opportunities for artisans from small communities to be a part of a larger, mainstream fashion industry, to learn new skills, produce for international brands and earn an income.

The New Zealand designer took this a step further. Not only did the Kenyan artists design the screen-painted pouches for this season’s eyewear but took centrestage of her advertising campaign as the models for her Spring Visible eyewear collection. The resulting images – of old wrinkly Maasai beaders and funky, young artists – are simple but striking, injecting bold graphics into an earthy ethnic aesthetic.

At first glance, these models seem unlikely campaign stars but as we fall in love with the personalities behind the shades, we begin to wonder– why isn’t this done more often? In the real and raw beauty of these images, Karen Walker has certainly caught – and kept – our eye.  Make the shades your own when they become available in mid-February.

Check out more looks from the campaign here.


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