the outside of a shop with a neon sign that reads "vivienne westwood"

Some Thoughts on the Vivienne Westwood Foundation

A VoiceBox team member recently attended a launch event for the Vivienne Westwood foundation and was left with some questions

Social IssuesCurrent events
By VoiceBox ·

VoiceBox

Written by one of our team members

The Vivienne Westwood Foundation is launching this year, and I have some thoughts about it

“All capitalism causes harm and destruction. You can’t have fair democracy without fair distribution of wealth.” These are the words of leading fashion designer Vivienne Westwood at her sold-out event highlighting stop-war and climate change. 

The free event promoted the approaching launch of the Vivienne Westwood Foundation, an organisation which will partner with NGOs to “create a better society and halt climate change”. 

While this all sounds great on the surface, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy as she spoke of the importance of communism while hoarding a net worth of 50 million pounds. 

“Rulers in the West are just as powerful as China. Even the ones you think have a heart”, she continued. While this is a fair statement to make, we must not forget that it’s also the super rich and powerful who are buying her clothes. I’m not sure many ‘normal’ people could afford to pay £1000 for a top. 

The fashion industry is made for the elite. Those condemned for buying fast fashion are often unable to afford the environmentally friendly prices that Westwood charges. Saving the planet is only available to those with a superior bank account, and I do wish this could have been acknowledged by the richest person in the room.

And as I sat at the back of the room feeling rather disappointed, one thing did strike me, and clearly Vivienne herself – war is not talked about enough. As an otherwise commonplace UK citizen, it’s very easy to distance myself from war. Afterall, my family and friends aren’t being blown sky high into the air because one privileged man in power is having a tantrum. Thinking about war is scary. Even contemplating how to help those in need, how to action peace and how to confront the rich and powerful feels daunting. I really hope The Vivienne Westwood Foundation will provide the resources and advice we need to champion for fair democracies and war-free countries. 

Her rather niche website voicing social causes doesn’t appear to administer much clarity. Randomly scattered with aimless quotes and perplexing artwork, I felt nothing but confusion as I tried to navigate through its pages to discover what point it was trying to make. If you really want the everyday masses to get involved with your social mission, you should at least tell us how. 

I can’t help but feel slightly bad as I, a young person, sit here and criticise an otherwise very sweet 81-year-old woman. And it’s not to say that the event was a total calamity. I truly sensed her genuine heart wanting to make a change in her later years – which is certainly better than sitting on the great wealth she has amassed through a lifetime in fashion. The other speakers at the event were also extremely interesting to listen to. I was particularly impressed by De-Militarise Education, an organisation run by young people, working to see universities break their ties with the global arms trade and become champions for peace.

It’s important to not sit here and completely criticise those who are trying to help. Vivenne is certainly doing more than I am at the moment to accelerate positive change, although we should acknowledge that she has more resources than most of us to support those in need. It will certainly be interesting to see what direction she takes her foundation in after its launch. 

So let’s sit tight and wait to see what she does next. It could, afterall, save the world. 

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