Designer advocates for artisans

July 9, 2018

Famed New York fashion designer Donna Karan will be at the 2018 International Folk Art Festival as a sponsor of its “Wear Your Impact.” The program encourages shoppers to buy clothing and accessories supporting international artists.

Karan and her lifestyle brand Urban Zen will helm two booths with a mix of international artist collaborations. Karan established Urban Zen to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of preservation of culture, health care and education. The fashion icon has worked with artists from Haiti, Bali and Vietnam for years.

Why or how does the International Folk Market appeal to you?

I think there is nothing more important than respecting cultures and the artisans of each and every country. They have been inspirational. There is a soul in each product, which is a preservation of culture. This is what Urban Zen is, and it’s my passion.

Why did you decide to get involved?

I did Santa Fe years ago. Last year, my designer who has been involved with Santa Fe, Peter Speliopoulos, asked if I would be interested in going, so I went last year and I was blown away. I work with a lot of the artisans, but I must say it was like taking a travel trip around the world in three days. As I continue to work with artisans, I think the most exciting thing for me is being able to bring Haiti to Santa Fe ? articulating and showing people what an amazing job they have done.

I was honored that the Santa Fe market has asked me to curate and put together a group of artisans that I have a passion for, giving them a platform to show their work. It also has given the opportunity for a defined point of view of how so many different artists can come together and create a representation of artwork in the world.

Tell me about your Urban Zen line and how it links to folk art.

Well, Urban Zen’s whole point is to help you find the calm in the chaos, and dressing and addressing the issues of the world. I’ve always traveled the world and I’ve always believed in fashion to take it from day to evening. In my journeys to various parts of the world, I see firsthand the artisan and the handmade quality of what comes out of these cultures. It’s because of this for why I believe so much in the preservation of culture and communities, and inspiring change for conscious consumerism.

How does the market appeal to your aesthetic?

You know, it’s all about artisans. It’s all about things being handmade, and about the culture of each and every country. It’s indicative of who they are and where they live ? the environment, the availability, their personality, their colors, and what fibers and fabrics are accessible to them.

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