New Zealand-based designer Karen Walker is taking her eyewear on the road…literally.
Walker is rolling out a new pop-up retail concept called Karen Walker Candy Bar to sell her eyewear collection and limited-edition models, some of which bear tasty monikers like Milky Cream, Vanilla, Strawberry, Bubblegum and Toffee. The unit, which features a peach-colored countertop and brass fixtures, folds into a compact, wheeled case.
The Candy Bar is rolling into a selection of multi-label retail boutiques for two to four-week periods. One unit is currently located at Steven Alan in NY after hitting Los Angeles boutique Tenoversix earlier this month. A second Candy Bar launched in Restir in Japan in May and is currently traveling around Seoul, before hitting Singapore at year-end. Over the next one to two years, the concept will make a series of stops around the world, including Canada, China, Australia and New Zealand.
Walker is one of the few New Zealand designers to have gained international recognition with her quirky yet tailored signature brand Karen Walker. Established in 1988, her ready-to-wear label regularly shows in New York. Eyewear, launched in 2005, now represents 20 percent of Karen Walker’s turnover internationally, or about $9.92 million, according to the company.
Currently her eyewear counts 363 points of sale worldwide, including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Steven Alan in Los Angeles and Tenoversix in New York. Retail prices range from $220 to $280.
“Eyewear is often presented as part of a group of eyewear brands. In our case they’re always great brands that we’re pleased to be alongside but we also like the idea of having a solo presence in store that allows us to have a more visible point of view,” she said of the pop-up. “We started thinking about it because the eyewear was doing so well that we wanted to create a unique way to merchandise it.”
Walker said her customers see her product as an accessory more than a pair of eyewear.
“As designers we’re interested in the idea of how far we can push the idea of design in eyewear. Many of our customers have 3 or 4 pairs from any given season and so we wanted to create something that would be limited edition and even more special.” she said.
Walker’s longtime interior design partner Katie Lockhart developed the Candy Bar. Lockhart, who designs all Karen Walker interiors and merchandising, regularly contributes to magazines such as World of Interiors and Case da Abitare.
Walker said she and Lockhart are currently working on a second incarnation of the format that is “less nomadic.”