Dame Vivienne Westwood has always been a fashion designer with a conscience about the power of the individual and the need to protect our planet, so a move by its licensing partner Zeon to use recycled materials for its watches’ packaging is entirely in line with the group’s philosophy.
Ethical sourcing is another core value at Vivienne Westwood, so its new Africa watch collection (pictured top and below), which uses Maasai Shuka fabric for its dial and straps.
The material is produced by Spinners & Spinners, one of the largest employers in Ruiri, Nairobi, in East Africa.
The company invests heavily in the training and development of their employees, supporting local infrastructure and schools within the wider community.
Vivienne Westwood works in partnership with the United Nations and World Trade Organisation – for the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI). The EFI programme aims to reduce poverty by linking micro-producers with the international supply chain of fashion, providing long term employment and supporting the growth of local infrastructure.
Vivienne began designing for her eponymous counter-culture label in 1971 with her then partner Malcolm McLaren, the manager who bought the Sex Pistols to fame and infamy.
Vivienne and her company have always used their collections and catwalk shows as a platform to campaign for positive activism, and has spent many years speaking out about the effects of climate change and over-consumption.
“The Revolution is already begun,” she says. “The fact of man-made climate change is accepted by most people. Through every walk of life people are changing their values and their behaviour. This continues to build the Revolution. The fight is no longer between the classes or between rich and poor but between the idiots and the eco-conscious.”
Over the last 20 years Vivienne has also campaigned and fundraised for the Environmental Justice Foundation and Friends of the Earth, among hundreds of other grass roots charities and campaigners. She is also an ambassador for Greenpeace and in 2013 designed their official ‘Save the Artic’ logo and in 2015 launched a global campaign to stop drilling and industrial fishing in the area.
In 2012 she inaugurated the ‘Climate Revolution’ at the London Paralympics closing ceremony and continues to rally charities, NGO’s and individuals to join forces and to take action against disengaged political leaders and big business.
She is also a Trustee of human rights organization Liberty and patron of Reprieve and is also a campaigner for Amnesty International and War Child.
In September 2017, Vivienne Westwood, along with the British Fashion Council, and support from the London Majors office, launched the SWITCH to Green campaign to bring the fashion industry together to lead in ambitious climate action.
The ongoing campaign encourages industry leaders to commit to SWITCH all UK offices and stores to a green energy supplier. In 2018 Vivienne Westwood was awarded with the Positive Change award at the British Fashion Awards for her global campaigning work within the industry.
Vivienne has written her ideas in a Manifesto called “Active Resistance to Propaganda”. The AR Manifesto is rooted in culture as the stimulus to save the planet for the future. It can be read at www.climaterevolution.co.uk
“It’s a war for the very existence of the human race. And that of the planet. The most important weapon we have is public opinion: go to art galleries, start to understand the world you live in. You’re a freedom fighter as soon as you start doing that,” she asserts.