Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Designer Karen Walker gives accessories their own space

"This will be the store where, if it exists, it will be here." Photo / Nick Reed
"This will be the store where, if it exists, it will be here." Photo / Nick Reed

Karen Walker is well known for her clothing, having started designing in 1988 - but more recently it is her accessories that are taking off, with the designer opening a store focused exclusively on showcasing her extensive line of eyewear, jewellery, shoes, bags and fragrances.

Walker said huge growth in eyewear sales in particular had been behind the idea to develop the salon-style store in Newmarket, where she said customers could, for the first time, view and try the entire range of Karen Walker eyewear, including her corrective lenses range, and in a relaxed and less rushed environment.

Walker said: "This will be the store where, if it exists, it will be here."

Eyewear partner Sunshades, which distributes the range globally, sold around 150,000 pairs last year. Photo / Supplied
Eyewear partner Sunshades, which distributes the range globally, sold around 150,000 pairs last year. Photo / Supplied

Since 2012, Karen Walker eyewear sales have increased by 700 per cent, with an average year on year growth of 74 per cent - boosted by endorsement from celebrities ranging from Lady Gaga and Adele to Gigi Hadid and Miranda Kerr.

Eyewear partner Sunshades, which distributes the range globally, sold around 150,000 pairs last year, and this growth is expected to continue.

"The accessories are such an important part of the brand," Walker said. "Everything in our retail has grown and is continuing to grow, but the accessories and the eyewear in particular over the last five years have grown at this incredible tangent.

"I just felt like customers weren't getting the experience that they deserved and when I was seeing people shopping for accessories, it felt like a lot of people crowded around a small area."

Walker said for a long time, she had just focused on eyewear and fine jewellery, but the expansion into bags, shoes, fragrances and growth of the original accessories range meant the product range had not been getting as much space and attention as needed.

Karen Walker eyewear is sold in 50 countries.

- NZ Herald

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