New Zealand fashion designer Karen Walker has been named in this year's global Business of Fashion 500 as one of the top influencers in the fashion world, up there with the likes of Kate Moss, Anna Wintour and Donatella Versace.

The list, compiled by the Business of Fashion magazine, and based on nominations, research and analysis, identifies the top 500 influencers in the fashion world from designers and models through to media and bloggers. Walker is the only New Zealand based representative in this year's list, and the only New Zealand designer. She said being named in the list was an incredible feeling.

"It is really thrilling, it's just an honour. Because [the Business of Fashion] is a really important voice in the industry. And to be one of only 112 designers, and on a list with people like Karl Lagerfeld, it's a little surreal, actually," Walker said.

This is the second time that Walker has been named in the list, highlighting the success she has achieved with the Karen Walker brand, worn by Natalie Portman, Lady Gaga and Alexa Chung. Karen Walker now has huge markets in Japan and the US, with a growing base in Europe as well. Walker said the global recognition was a huge success for the brand.


"In 2014 you're competing against everyone in the world, even if you're just trying to sell to someone down the road, because they're looking at everything," Walker said. "But to be recognised by a global voice in that way, that's what's so significant, it's pretty amazing really." The Karen Walker brand was launched when, in her second year at fashion school at 18 and with $100, Walker made a shirt for a friend who was in a band.

The shirt was so popular that Walker decided to make a few more designs and from there the brand grew.

"That very first shirt I made, it's funny because it had the DNA of our style in it from day one. Everything we put out is fully formed and thought through. In this business it's so much just about your own point of view and it's great to be an independently owned company and be the creative directors, because there is no gap between what we feel and the product. It's intuitive."

Karen Walker is celebrating 10 years of eyewear production this month, and Walker said it was the excitement of creating the brand and new designs that was her biggest thrill in the business.

"For me, it's about looking for that feeling of creating something that's great. That's all it is, and that's why we do it. I love it."