Karen Walker's worldly vision with the Ethical Fashion Initiative

The new Karen Walker Eyewear campaign, photographed by Derek Henderson, features those who work on the Ethical Fashion Initiative project.

Her eyewear campaigns have featured children, advanced style stars and mops. But this season Karen Walker is using the advertising platform to highlight the plight of poverty-stricken African regions, working with the United Nations' International Trade Centre's Ethical Fashion Initiative to produce unique pouches made by Kenyan artisans - some of whom star in the campaign.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative aims to promote fair and sustainable business rather than a reliance on aid in disadvantaged African and Haitian communities (their motto is "not charity, just work"), bringing together craftspeople and international brands to produce products. Vivienne Westwood and Sass & Bide have also worked with the initiative.

Walker's involvement will see each pair of new-season Karen Walker sunglasses come with a screen-printed pouch made by Kenyan artisans from local materials, with more elaborate, beaded styles available to buy.

Some of those involved in the project - machinists, cutters, tailors, production managers, metal workers and members of the Maasai group who create the beading work - feature in the campaign, including Winnifred, pictured above in the headscarf, a supervisor at the production hub where the bags are made, and Velma (in gold glasses above), an assistant working on the project.

Long-time Karen Walker collaborator Derek Henderson visited Waithaka, a small village 20 minutes from Nairobi, in December with Jade Leigh Kelly, who works closely with Walker in the design room, to capture the campaign portraits as well as haunting landscapes of the area. Henderson is also working on a short film, to be released soon.

The new collection of sunglasses, called Karen Walker Visible, includes oversized black frames with colour-tinted translucent lenses and gold trims, gold glitter and filigree styles, and reflective gold lenses. Find them, and the pouches, in stores from February 3.

Take a look at these images, taking us behind the scenes at the project and campaign shoot.

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New Zealand Herald

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