Karen Walker: ‘no more shows’

Karen Walker – the brand eponymous with street-style cool – will no longer be making an appearance on the runway at New York Fashion Week.

The news comes on the heels of an op-ed piece by the designer in which she comments on the current state of the industry.

Citing relentless pressure to constantly develop new product lines, Ms Walker said the pace was overwhelming. The process, she said, was leaving  creatives “burnt out” and consumers saturated with a glut of choice.

In a move to challenge the current system, Ms Walker said timelines for product development needed to be “wrestled back”.

Ms Walker said longer product design development times had worked for her eyewear and fine jewellery lines.

Her practices with both were to allow a product to be in development for 12 to 24 months and to allow the item to remain in the range, on the shop floor and “hopefully – on the customer’s most loved list for years at a stretch.

Taking this approach, Ms Walker questioned whether there was still a need for collections to be designed under a paradigm which demanded constant change.

“Massive collections which ticked every box in the range; that are obsolescent in the blink of an eye and replaced before the leaves even change colour.”

Stepping back from more traditional ways of presenting her collections will be a part of how Ms Walker reconfigures her position in the industry.

The industry as a whole, she said, is debating whether the current business model of showing collections is viable given product is often not available to the consumer for up to six months after being presented.

Ms Walker said there would be no more fashion shows at Karen Walker. “These days there were much better ways to engage with the industry and the customer.”

The Auckland-based designer has shown 20 collections at New York Fashion Week.