Karen Walker decided to employ a wild version of her arrow motif for her spring 2016 campaign, and even toned everything down from what had been done in past seasons. In the past, Walker has cast models like the dog Toast, who is an Instagram star, Kenyan artisans, and a 90-year-old woman. Each of those campaigns made a statement of their own, but for the Karen Walker spring 2016 campaign, she decided to make her statement with “$2 plastic arrows.” Karen Walker sunglasses carry a lot of weight in the world of celebrities and social elite, and can be found in stores (check out Shopbop, for instance!) in more than 30 different countries. In 2014 alone, the shades brought in around $35 million. The iconic Walker arrow symbol is discreet, and this season the designer is letting everyone see it front and center on Eilika Meckbach.
The designer has her own thoughts as to why this marketing strategy was right for this season, and so she sat down for an interview with Fashionista.com. She told the story of her brand and the arrow motif, which has followed the New Zealand-based label since “2002 in a collection that we showed in London.”
To Walker, the arrow symbolizes “fearlessness and an optimism and an energy that has always been the basis from which our brand has grown.” The brand has always rejected the idea of blatant branding, as with placing a logo on the temple of the frames, which led to questioning on the importance of signature branding for marketing purposes.
When Walker began her label, all of her campaigns were based around the stereotypical concept of a model near water, but she quickly became bored with the concept. “It was never going to be a girl lying on a boat — it was going to be a broom, a balloon, a child, a 90-year-old lady, a vampire, a toothless dog… or in this case, a girl with an arrow shooting through the head.” And now the designer exemplifies the idea that you don’t have to conform to modern beauty standards to create a successful campaign, which is something that helps elevate the character of any photoshoot.
With the upcoming consumer-friendly changes proposed for New York Fashion Week, it’s always interesting to hear how the designers feel about the prospect. And Walker seems to be taking everything with stride.
“I think that the way fashion weeks and runway shows fit into the whole machine, the whole picture, is very different now than what it was 10 years ago, and I think that will only continue to change. We’ve probably only just seen the tip of the iceberg.”
The designer is already known for the consumer-friendly beginning to each of her Fashion Week showings, as there is always a sunglasses giveaway, of sorts. So now, it all comes down to what Walker sees for the future of this trend, and she approached the topic with a bit of humor.
“Usually it’s the front two rows [who get the sunglasses] and whoever has no dignity and wants to jump forward and just steal them. I think we are this time; it all comes down to what stock we’ve got, really.”
And of course there’s always one question we love to hear designers answer. And that’s how they react to seeing their looks on the streets.
“I do get excited when it’s on the right celebrity, but I also get excited when I see some girl on the street who’s probably had to save up for months to buy them for herself and is really proud of them,” Walker began. “It might not get quite as many Instagram likes, but when you’re having to spend real money and you’re a real person, sometimes it means more.”
Hearing Walker discuss her views on her brand, her marketing, and her own personal excitement with her shoppers brings a level of humanity to the ever-stylish brand. It’s important to remember that you’re buying these sunglasses from a passionate designer, not just some nameless brand, and in doing so you can even build an unspoken bond between yourself and the designer simply by purchasing and wearing the product provided.
Photos courtesy of Karen Walker