There are fashion designers who find fame and fortune by specialising – think Camilla Frank and her range of kaftans.
And then there are the fashion designers who dip their brush in many pots and succeed. Karen Walker is the latter.
Like the best success stories, Karen came from remarkably humble beginnings. Starting out with just $100, she made and sold t-shirts to friends in her native New Zealand.
Karen’s eponymous label has grown into a lucrative global brand that includes clothing, homewares, jewellery, shoes, handbags and, of course, her signature range of eyewear. With her brand now stocked in more than 30 countries and sales of her sunglasses raking in an estimated $35 million a year, she’s come a long way.
Karen’s designs cleverly play with cultural subtext, juxtaposing luxe and street, masculine and feminine, folk and utility to create stunning pieces that are both directional and wearable.
Her success can be partly attributed to a shift in the eyewear market. While sunglasses were previously considered an accessory to a label’s main collection and an affordable entry point into a brand, in recent years eyewear has been recognised as a stand-alone category.
Arguably one of the most successful eyewear brands on the market, Karen’s quirky range of shades continues to command an enviable celebrity following, with big names such as Alexa Chung, Gigi Hadid and Rihanna making up the mix.
Despite her phenomenal success, Karen Walker isn’t one to rest on her (no doubt very stylish) laurels.
The new Metals collection was inspired by Man Ray’s perfection of solarisation – a photographic technique of transposing the light and dark of negatives to create a metallic effect.
“We altered our focus this season with new styles that expose their intrinsic architecture and create a sense of illusion, almost as if the frames float on the face,” says Karen.
With a colour palette of metallic gold, blue and silver, Metals introduces new lens shapes and colours. If this latest collection is anything to go by, the Karen Walker brand will continue to soar for years to come.