Karen Walker, roots in  vintage with a modern flair


Karen Walker’s sunglass designs are quite an eclectic mix, bringing together many elements with a surprising ease. They embody tailored and street, masculine and feminine, dark and bright. Karen Walker is best known for collections that are original, unpretentious and always optimistic. Overall the label has a feeling of effortlessness and has been described by the UK‘s Independent newspaper as being “the kind of look that provides a means of appearing cool but not trying-too-hard, cute but not saccharine, alternative but not self consciously so. The fact that these collections appear to be so totally not ‘fashion’ is what makes them so ‘now’”.

Karen Walker collections are high casual, elevated with a signature love of print and colour. The reoccurring theme is juxta­pos­ition of opposites — masculine and feminine, tailored and street, luxury and non-luxury, dark and super-cute.

Karen Walker is a fashion brand with a reputation for its original, effortless and unpretentious style. Karen Walker shows each season as part of New York Fashion Week and has permanent showrooms in London, New York, Tokyo and Sydney. There are five Karen Walker flagship stores in New Zealand. She is also part of the group behind The Department Store in Auckland. The Department Store is a modern take on the traditional department store and includes a Karen Walker boutique alongside the best of Auckland’s beauty, art, interior, fashion and food. It’s a 360 degree shopping experience that stretches across three floors.

The collections all have the outsider as their inspiration. Karen Walker’s work celebrates the anti-‘it girl’ – characters like Ally Sheedy’s heavy fringed weirdo in ‘The Breakfast Club’, orphan Annie, the juvenile delinquent prom queen who climbs out the window after curfew to run with the bad crowd, Woody Allen’s persistently dissatisfied Annie Hall, an Amelia Earhart inspired adventuress who, after crash landing in the jungle, turns her back on civilisation in preference of tribal life or 1930’s comic book super-heroines leading double lives. Not the beautiful girl in the room, but the interesting one. These extremes reflect heavily in the eyewear collection as an ongoing reference.
Karen Walker was awarded the 2007 Prix de Marie Claire award for best creative talent.
Celebrity followers include Alexa Chung, Florence (Florence and the Machine), Rihanna, Beth Ditto, M.I.A. and Whitney Port to name a few.