We’re in an era of change. The consumer has long been influenced by advertising and media, but now the way we influence is changing shape as we enter an age of impact because of the necessity for action. Impact, being an active word rather than the more passive “influence” I feel describes Vivienne Westwood’s AW20 collection revealed at London Fashion Week this year, and so, fittingly as you will discover reading this article, I will post this on the day of the Climate Strike.
HOMO LOQUAX, or MAN THE TALKER, the title of Vivienne Westwood’s LFW19 show, discusses (literally, as the models and guests talk amongst each other on the runway) the “loop” that the economy and the climate are in, like “two snakes eating each other’s tail”.
We’ve been lulled into a state of hypnosis by years of information overload and undernourishment; the confusion of being told to buy, to believe, to want, to airbrush and to seek wealth that has lost its meaning, and all of this is what Vivienne describes as “rot dollar”. We see wealth as riches, gold, opulence and extravagance, and whether we have it or not, we are compelled to live and behave as if we do. Our possessions are no longer valuable, they’re throwaways not keepsakes, the information we receive passes us by with a swipe or the change of a channel. But does wealth not have a deeper meaning that we’ve forgotten? Is it not about connecting to an inner feeling of fulfilment? We need to re-learn to feel the impact of our decisions, our behaviours and purchases as consumers and creators, because our rot dollar recklessness is leading us toward an apocalyptic future. Our rot dollar recklessness ensures that 11 million garments per week end up in landfill, and that’s the impact of fast fashion alone.
So, Vivienne Westwood’s show reminds us to slow down, think for ourselves, look around us at the earth and witness the impact that we are having on it. It might seem counter-intuitive to place this message on a fashion runway, but I think it’s the perfect place to make a statement about climate change and consumer behaviours, particularly when delivered by Vivienne Westwood who aims to raise £100 million to save the rain forests.
Rose McGowan dressed as “the angel of democracy” in the show, reminds us that democracy is about balance, and that balance is as much political as it is also social and environmental. If the economy and the climate could be in balance with one another, in a democratic alliance, then the people would be safe as well and we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. But we’re not safe, and that’s our own fault.
Now, I love fashion. I don’t ever want the fashion weeks to end, and I don’t think that fashion has to disappear for us to have a future. Its our attitude towards fashion and the way we consume that needs to change, and that counts for creators as well.
Vivienne Westwood isn’t the only fashion house making an impact. Gucci has stated that they will be carbon neutral by the end of the month after partnering up with the UN’s Redd+ solution to fun reforestation projects in Peru, Kenya, Indonesia and Cambodia. This year’s G7 Summit fashion pact saw Chanel, Nike, Prada, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Zara, Versace, McQueen and many others pledge that they will work towards producing zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, towards restoring biodiversity and preserving the oceans.
John Sauvan from the Greenpeace board of directors said during the Westwood show that, “it is not too late to act, but we must act now”. Influence leads to impact, which leads to action and action counts no matter how small. As long as we continue to act and evolve, sustainability for our future doesn’t have to mean the end of the world as we know it.