Derek Henderson traveled to Kenya to shoot Karen Walker’s campaign promoting her Visible 2014 line, a collection of eyewear produced in collaboration with the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.
From the press release: ‘Launching at the end of February 2014, Karen Walker Visible is our new campaign that aims to highlight, celebrate and acknowledge. This season Karen Walker is working with the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative to create work in community groups of micro-artisans located in urban slums and disadvantaged rural areas of Kenya. The Ethical Fashion Initiative’s motto is NOT CHARITY, JUST WORK and their task is to promote sustainable business over aid dependency. The Initiative enables marginalized artisans to increase their skills, to enter the international fashion chain in a fair way and to produce directly for brands that distribute products worldwide.
Karen Walker and the artisans of the Ethical Fashion Initiative are working together to produce pouches for the latest Karen Walker Eyewear collection. The simple, screen-printed pouches will come with every pair of Karen Walker Eyewear from this new collection. In addition, more elaborate and embellished versions, also made by Kenyan artisan groups, will be available to buy separately.
Taking the project a step further, it is the artisans themselves who are the stars of this season’s campaign. The people photographed here include machinists, cutters, tailors, production managers and metal workers who have acquired or refined craft and management skills through the Ethical Fashion Initiative. For the Maasai artisans, to whom intricate beading is a tradition, connecting to the fashion world through the Initiative brings a vital source of income. Photographed by Derek Henderson, our photos allow a glimpse into the world that the work is coming from.
The campaign captures our innate optimism, our love of maximum-impact in the images themselves and also directs attention to Kenya in a positive way. The images help to bring visibility to how fashion can be a vital vehicle out of poverty.’
Derek Henderson says about the experience: ‘It was incredibly inspiring not only visually but also to meet the local people involved in the project and to feel the positive energy generated by their participation in this viable commercial transaction. The Initiative is founded on the mutually beneficial premise that bringing long-term work opportunities to African countries is a more sustainable solution than charity alone and that in engaging the skills of the local people, the products created are hand-crafted and unique. The mood among the workers was overwhelmingly uplifting and aesthetically they were wonderful to shoot.’
Photography and film direction by Derek Henderson. Full credits at the end of the film.