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KENYAN ARTISANS STAR IN KAREN WALKER CAMPAIGN

Great things are happening with United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative. British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood teamed up with the organisation to create a collection of handbags and now eyewear designer Karen Walker has joined the initiative.

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The New Zealand-based designer just released her Spring 2014 campaign in which she gives a face to the Kenyan artisans who worked on her range.

Karen Walker is known for her provocative, out of the ordinary visuals. Previous campaigns feature the likes of geriatric street style stars, mops and albino models. The albino models, for example, were chosen to make a point that her sunglasses are designed with high UV protection lenses. The latest campaign however, called ‘Karen Walker Visible’, might be the most innovative one yet.

For the range, the designer worked with a group of Kenyan artists who created the pouches sold with each pair of sunglasses purchased. Made using local materials, machinists, tailors, metal workers and Maasai beaders, the result is an exquisitely crafted collection of embellished and screen-sprinted sunglass slips.

It’s these craftsmen and women who are cast in the campaign, shot by Derek Henderson, it’s a visually arresting tribute to the artists’ culture and creative talent.

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Karen had this to say about the project:

‘We were thrilled to be able to work with the Ethical Fashion Initiative on this project and we wanted to expand on that by presenting not only the pouches they’re creating for us, but also something more intimate – a glimpse into the world that the work is coming from. 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. In short, the images help bring visibility to this place, these people and the work of the Ethical Fashion Initiative.’

The United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative is reviving African fashion while empowering local communities. It aims to create fair and sustainable businesses and allow artisans to earn a wage so that they can live in a dignified manner. By connecting international brands with disadvantaged communities in Africa and Haiti, the initiative is changing the world with fashion.

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