“Buy Less. Choose Well. Make It Last” says Vivienne Westwood. The Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette launched their “Changeons de mode” (Fashioning Change) campaign to push for a more sustainable fashion industry, and hosted a talk with the queen of punk, Vivienne Westwood. She shared her view on the fashion industry, and proved that she is still as punk as she was in her thirties.

The climate change crisis is here and people are more careful when buying products. So, more and more brands are changing to sustainable production cycles. But Dame Vivienne Westwood has been thinking about sustainable fashion for years. It’s only logical that she were the guest of the Parisian Galeries Lafayette to launch their “Changeons de mode” (Fashioning the change) campaign to think about the future of fashion.

Vivienne Westwood has been designing clothes and shaping fashion for years. Starting with her small shop in King’s Road in London, she dressed band members of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls, and went on to mold the 1970s punk scene. At the heart of the punk movement, Westwood saw “youth and anger versus age“. Young people were mad at the generation that was responsible for the Vietnam War but still in power. Together with her partner, Malcolm McLaren who was managing the Sex Pistols, she conveyed political messages through clothing.

Throughout her career as a designer, her style has evolved but has always remained true to its punk roots. She keeps on using her platform to share her political views, including the preservation of the planet. She started her website to share her ideas, educate and find a solution to environmental problems. People can’t afford to not care about climate change, because it will impact everyone. And if nothing is done very soon, it will be too late. So she advises people to take an interest in climate change, try not to shop too much or shop responsibly, avoid driving regularly and take public transportation.

Fixing the issues

Westwood sees one big problem today, the “rotten dollar”. Governments only wish for more money and create poverty and crime. And if they are responsible for crime, politicians are criminals themselves. She is not afraid to call out leaders, the usual suspects such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, but also more popular politicians such as Barack Obama.

Vivienne Westwood created a banner that sums up her world view for the Galeries Lafayette talk. At the heart of her philosophy is what she calls “1 World Rent.” She believes humans are just renting the Earth. In her ideal world, land – which includes oceans, airwaves… – should not belong to individuals so that they can make more profit (capitalism), nor should it belong to everyone (communism); it should belong to no one. People would just be renting land to a responsible government that would hold the authority and trust of a democracy and would make sure the planet is protected. She thought about the way to make farmers and people living off of the land happy and it would be that: people would not have their land taken away; they could still hold and use it for perpetuity as long as they treat it with respect.

Fighting for the future

But Vivienne Westwood manages to stay positive and keep fighting. Even though, she feels “terrible sometimes, so tired,” she has an optimistic nature and when she feel possessed by ideas, she has to act on it. She has a lot to live for and she cares about people. She believes in being her best self. And, ultimately, she “believe[s] in life.” Young activists like Greta Thunberg impress her. The young Swede “is wonderful” and “serves the cause of democracy” by giving people a focus.

While she believes in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” motto, she wants to focus on the “reduce” part of the trio, specifically in production. Next season, Vivienne Westwood is reducing her collection by half and will make it in Italy (because in England they’re “just not good enough”) so that less people will have to travel. She continues to work in fashion because she wants to create THE company of the future. She would love to make into law that once you expand your brand to a certain point, you can’t expand anymore and you have to give your profits to charity. Westwood is also advocating for the end of wasteful practices like the use of cotton and denim. She stopped making jeans and has decided to tell people to go to second-hand shops.

Article by Juliette Cardinale

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