, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Zealand fashion designer Karen Walker is in a bit of a predicament. A recent ad campaign her brand is running is featuring Kenyan fair trade workers wearing her Chinese-made sunglasses. Naturally, this has cause an outrage amongst consumers.  The ad is part of her ‘Visible’ campaign, which uses Kenyan machinists, cutters, tailors, production managers and metal workers as models. The fair trade artisans are part of the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.

424aWE-Press-Release-2014_1stSummer_social-600x366To sum it up, this is a campaign that is commissioning the Kenyan artisans to produce the pouches in which the glasses are sold under the motto “not charity, just work”, promoting Chinese-made sunglasses. While it is admirable that the brand has taken an initiative, however small it is, is the hypocrisy presented in this ad insignifilzcant enough to glaze over?

The brand claims that the campaign does provide work for marginalised people, promotes Kenya in a positive way, and the glasses are made in China due to the need for high quality, advanced technology. However, this seems to just be another reminder to consumers to have a careful eye when it comes to supposedly ethical fashion campaigns. Is this an example of a large brand trying to jump on the ethical fashion bandwagon?

Is the campaign trying to pull the wool over her eyes or was this just an oversight? You decide.