Karen Walker + Ethical Fashion in Ecommerce

4 Min Read
Abena Gyebi
Karen Walker Eyewear - VisibleKaren Walker Eyewear - VisibleKaren Walker Eyewear - Visible
Photo via facebook

After giving us a sneak peek on her Facebook page, Monday Feb 10, the Barneys New York featured designer, Karen Walker, released her new eyewear collection, VISIBLE, in stores worldwide.

The eyewear collection is designed with Walker’s signature bold and unique flair. But this particular collection is even more special–as part of Walker’s partnership with the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, each pair of Karen Walker Eyewear will come with a screen printed pouch produced by Kenyan craftsmen who are associated with the Initiative.

Furthermore, VISIBLE’s ad campaign features the micro-artisans themselves, photographed in urban slums and disadvantaged rural areas.  According to Walker’s Facebook page, the campaign “…directs attention to Kenya in a positive way.”

Karen Walker Eyewear - Visible      Karen Walker Eyewear - Visible
Behind the scenes photos of the making of the campaign, The New Zealand Herald

In that, I think the campaign succeeds. Given the non-traditional nature of her designs, it’s refreshing to see someone other than standard garden-variety fashion models featuring the collection. Furthermore, it’s for a good cause—it not only brings visibility to the artisans but also business (more elaborate, beaded styles are also available for purchase).

Karen Walker Eyewear - Visible      Karen Walker Eyewear - Visible
Artisan pouches for the eyewear. More elaborate styles also available for purchase The New Zealand Herald

As consumers are becoming more conscious about how their purchases are produced, social responsibility is becoming more and more common in the fashion industry. “It’s about a new generation of products rewriting the rules of quality for a new generation of consumers,” says Rob Broggi, CEO of Industrial Revolution II, a socially responsible garment factory.  “A public that has begun to exercise their consumer leverage to force organic food into the mainstream marketplace will increasingly demand ethical options from the clothing industry.”

We’ve already seen just how popular it’s become offline with efforts like the Berlin Ethical Fashion Show attracting as many as 116 brands during Berlin’s fashion week. “It shows how important the topic is among consumers,” commented Olaf Schmit, the Show organizer. But what’s surprising is how much it’s been taking off as a niche industry in ecommerce.

Video: Amber Valletta on her new collection

In August 2013, model Amber Valletta launched an ecommerce venture with Yoox called Master and Muse. A curated collection of clothing, jewelry and accessories, Master and Muse retails high-end brands and products that have been mindfully manufactured and are environmentally responsible.

On more of a social front, Ten Thousand Villages uses its multi-channel operation to create a platform where thousands of artisans across the third world can sell their unique pieces to an eager North American market. Founded in 1946 from the trunk of founder Edna Rugh Byler’s car, the company has experienced such a positive response from the public, it has since grown to encompass 390 retail outlets in the US as well as a booming ecommerce site.

Wildwood Jewelry Collection, Ten Thousand Villages
Banyan Tree Earrings and Mountain Stone Ring from the Wildwood Jewelry Collection, Ten Thousand Villages

With such a high demand, we can only hope to see more socially responsible fashion brands and retailers on the market.

Photo via Facebook

For more of Corra’s Fashion Week blogs:

Saks Fifth Avenue and the Game of Shopping for Fashion   Daisy Marc Jacobs at Pop-Up Tweet Shop in SoHo   The Democratization of Fashion   Karen Walker Eyewear - Visible Donna Karen’s Non-Models and Lessons in Authenticity   Intel...Inside of Fashion?   day7

Abena Gyebi

Corra, a Publicis Sapient company, is the global commerce leader and SI helping brands and organizations grow by evaluating, building, and optimizing their digital commerce ecosystems. Our vast experience with composable and headless implementations speeds time-to-value and provides technical freedom to our clients. Our TotalCare managed services program provides gold-standard support, enhancements and ongoing commerce strategy. We are strategic thinkers, accomplished engineers, and award-winning experience designers. We believe outstanding customer experiences can’t exist without flawless technology, and that flawless technology is pointless without beautiful, human-centered design. Our clients are an integral part of our team. Together, we remove the obstacles that are limiting growth and discover new opportunities. We don’t rest until our clients achieve their full potential. Our clients’ KPIs are our KPIs. We have 20 years of experience in commerce technology, but we also know that customer expectations are constantly evolving. For this reason, we’ve built future-proof solutions and refined an agile execution process that helps our clients achieve more with less. As a Publicis Sapient company, Corra joins a global network spanning 20,000 people with 53 offices around the world enabling us to accelerate our clients’ businesses through designing and building the experiences and services their customers demand.

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