Sustainability Story Inspired by Vivienne Westwood

Many of you may acknowledge Vivienne Westwood in the fashion industry. On the one hand, Vivienne Westwood is known as a British fashion designer. On the other hand, Vivienne Westwood is also known as a fashion brand, which adopts sustainable fashion practices by integrating punk cultures to maintain long-term survival.

From the perspective of a fashion brand, Vivienne Westwood is a luxury brand from the United Kingdom. Do you recognize the nature of this brand? Vivienne Westwood pursues sustainable fashion practices greatly and the brand is influenced by punk elements. She hopes to create beautiful clothes while showing her responsible attitude towards mankind and the earth. This embodies and develops her vision of sustainable fashion.Most of Vivienne Westwood’s designs referred to the history books. Besides, from Vivienne Westwood’s personal angle, the designs were restructured and improved in a frequent manner. Thanks to her personal features and characteristics, including her rebellious heart and intentions, Vivienne Westwood was considered one of the primary figures that affected the wave and trend of 90s fashion, for the reason that she rebelled against the rules in the fashion sector. Until now, Vivienne Westwood and her design still stimulate and motivate fashion expression currently. Because of the features exhibited by the designer, punk style, seeking change, and rule-breaking fashion elements make up the major design and characteristics of the brand.

As one of the fashion pioneers who was against with fashion waste, Vivienne Westwood delivered the message of “Buy less, choose well, make it last” in the London Fashion Week Men’s show to give her advice to the new designers and encourage them to reduce fashion waste. Are you wondering how Vivienne Westwood demonstrated its sustainable principles in fashion production? Vivienne Westwood delivered the public speech, and she delivered the message that the brand did not implement plastics or non-sustainable materials in the fashion designs. She also mentioned on her personal social media that what is good for the earth is good for the economy. For this reason, she carried out a series of activities.

Sustainability Charity

As an activist designer, Westwood has been committed to protecting the earth and its ecosystem. Her company operates in a highly sustainable way, avoiding anything that is difficult to recycle, avoiding plastics, and using recycled materials instead of polyester and acrylic. Sustainable leather is the key point of her many creations. For more than a decade, Vivienne Westwood has been committed to sustainable development and charity. Vivienne Westwood cooperates with the Ethics and Fashion Initiative of the International Trade Center (EFI). Her “Handmade with Love” handbag series has helped thousands of poor people and provided a stable income for relevant personnel. The raw materials for making one series of handbags come from Kibera, Kenya, the largest slum in Nairobi. Her initiative has now spread not only to Kenya, but also to Nepal, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

A fashion pioneer in eco-friendly packaging and extreme use of materials

As a fashion pioneer with environmental awareness, All Vivienne Westwood retail packages are plastic free and made of Remake paper. All paper and cardboard packages shipped out of the warehouse are recyclable and recyclable. In 2020, Vivienne Westwood cooperated with the University of Santa Ana in Pisa Milan Chamber of Commerce to conduct the first cycle review and joined the first cycle fashion academic community under SDA BOCCONI SUSTAINABILITY LAB, aiming to better integrate business and sustainable development. Her team began to thoroughly implement the principle of circular design, with the long-term goal that all resources in our products will be used in a way that allows reuse at the end of the product life cycle. The surplus of fabric procurement is kept to a minimum. When Vivienne Westwood does have inevitable surplus materials, it will be reintroduced into the design of the upcoming series.


She once said:” We absolutely must save the rainforests. Have we really got time to be art lovers?” (Westwood, 2008). Vivienne Westwood partnered with the non-profit organization Canopy to launch a partnership to combat deforestation. In order to avoid unnecessary and excessive resource development, Vivienne Westwood is committed to protecting the world’s most important forest ecosystem in our supply chain. Ensure that the raw wood pulp used to manufacture or package its products does not come from ancient or endangered forest areas to change the status quo of unsustainable supply.


Helping other brands achieve change

Apart from the brand itself, you may be also interested in how Vivienne Westwood influences other fashion designers/fashion brands to implement sustainable fashion practices! For example, Vivienne Westwood criticized the use of PVC in producing shoes in view of a shoe brand called “Melissa”. The brand “Melissa” is known as a popular brand, which manufactures all of the shoes in PVC. From the environmental-friendly aspect, using PVC brought out several serious safety and environmental risks. To address this problem, you must be curious how Vivienne Westwood provides the alternative. To be more specific, Vivienne Westwood teamed up with Melissa to create the new shoe collection by using the material of recycled rubber! As for a sustainable fashion brand, Vivienne Westwood not only focuses on contributing to the sustainable fashion by the brand itself, but also places emphasise on changing others’ sustainable fashion practices. The below visual is one of the examples that demonstrates the collaboration between Vivienne Westwood and Melissa.

Using her strengths to promote sustainable development

Besides to the production materials, Vivienne Westwood also demonstrates and incorporates the notion of sustainable fashion through its marketing campaigns. For example, one of the marketing campaigns initiated by Vivienne Westwood was to call for individuals’ awareness regarding the climate revolution issue. Let’s further examine the details of the campaign. From the design perspective, no chic or glamour descriptions have been focused. Instead, the climate revolution T-shirt expressed the emphasises brought out by the brand regarding climate change and environmental issues. By arranging this type of marketing campaign, Vivienne Westwood called actions to pursue sustainability and address climate change issues from the public. The below picture presents how Vivienne Westwood incorporates the concept of sustainability in its marketing campaign and its product design.

Vivienne Westwood has partnered with the British Fashion Council and the Mayor of London to launch a campaign called Fashion SWITCH. It has also attracted brands such as Christopher Raeburn, E.Tautz, Harvey Nichols, Kering, Marks & Spencer, Oliver Spencer, Positive Luxury, Selfridges, Stella McCartney steventai, Teatum Jones and other brands have committed to switching to green energy suppliers or green energy for their fashion businesses by 2020. The goal of sustainability is to improve the health and well-being of our population and the planet through the use of renewable energy. It also shows how the creative industries can work together to drive the shift to green energy.

Committed to ecological conservation and sustainable human development

To further promote the concept of sustainable fashion, Vivienne Westwood also launched the photo campaign to promote the Greenpeace’s efforts. That is to say, the partnership had been created between Vivienne Westwood and George Clooney, Chris Martine, and Paloma Faith. The major aim of this campaign is to save the Arctic and stop the oil company Shell from drilling in the area. In this campaign, Vivienne Westwood step back from expanding the business scale and demonstrated her concerns in view of mass production in the fashion industry, because she insists on opposing fast fashion. Furthermore, Vivienne Westwood also focused on manufacturing high-quality fashion products rather than place emphasises on the quantity of the fashion goods. This action is aligned with the vision of “Buy less, choose well, make it last” demonstrated by Vivienne Westwood. That is to say, Vivienne Westwood’s ecological beliefs and concerns led the brand to further step into the field of sustainable fashion. The below picture is one of the illustrations of this photo campaign.

The fashion industry is considered a profitable industry, and it creates a lot of job opportunities and economic benefits to society in the global context. But at the same time, The products created by fashion are often disposable, and through their creation, distribution and final disposal, it also caused irreparable pollution and damage to the environment. Most clothes contain synthetic fibers, such as polyester fiber, nylon, acrylic fiber, etc. These ingredients need hundreds of years to be biodegradable. The emission from the production of polyester fiber is two to three times that of cotton, and these components will not be decomposed in the sea, which will also cause serious pollution to the sea. For example, the amount of water used to produce a cotton shirt is equivalent to the amount of water a person drinks eight glasses of water every day, lasting for about three and a half years. The water used to produce a pair of jeans can make a person drink eight glasses of water every day for about 10 years. This is the main reason why sustainable fashion is very important. Some of you may question the cost of sustainable fashion practices, for the reason that producing fewer fashion goods affect the overall sales of the entire industry. However, when compared with the economic output, the damage created by fashion products to the environment is not able to be retrieved and recovered. In other words, when the natural resources had been used up, economic output had little to do in order to save the environment. Making fashion more humanized is the main goal of sustainable fashion.

In view of sustainable fashion, Vivienne Westwood is committed to change the philosophy in the fashion industry. Consumers find themselves personally implicated with and caring for a designer’s work and become responsible for reflecting on their own consumption decisions rather than cheaply satisfying immediate demands’ (Clark and Holt, 2015). Through her unparalleled creativity, Westwood has influenced generations. Her design focus has been to attract people’s attention to the plight of the earth through her clothes. From the aspect of brand vision, Vivienne Westwood encouraged “Buy less, choose well, make it last” and used high-quality and environmental-friendly production materials to reduce the quantity produced by the factories. In the meanwhile, Vivienne Westwood also teamed up with other designer/fashion brand or other entities to further promote the concept of sustainable fashion, such as introducing collaborative collections, organizing photo-campaign etc. In the long run, through marketing efforts and continuous sustainable fashion practices, it is believed that Vivienne Westwood has capabilities and potential in changing the future of the fashion industry,the notion of sustainability can be incorporated into the entire fashion industry to a certain extent.



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Serpentine. (2022, March 28). Into the archives: Vivienne Westwood’s climate activism. Serpentine Galleries.