The Climate Revolution

What a crazy week this has been, I feel like it has ran away with me. I have been trying to sort out about 50 different things all at the same time, hopefully I can tell you about some of them soon. Last week Vivienne sent me this campaign badge, to support the ‘Climate Revolution’. I remembered I hadn’t yet shared with you my story of when I went to hear Vivienne speak at the Friends of the Earth conference in September.

The conference was held during the late afternoon of the second day of London fashion week. Having had a day packed with shows it was like escaping to another world getting the chance to wonder around University Collage London – so peaceful! The conference had all sorts of wonderful talks and exhibitions taking place, but since I had been working all day I didn’t get the chance to see any of them, I was grateful the rally was being held at 5pm. I arrived early, thinking there would be a massive queue to get a good seat but as it happens everyone else was running late so I started to question if I was indeed in the right place. Dressed head to toe in Westwood I started to wonder if I looked too much like a groupie, that was until I spotted a young man with bright purple hair also head to toe in Westwood, his name was Mike (Mike with the hair) and we decided we could relax, safety in numbers and all that. It wasn’t long before the lecture theater was full to the brim, everyone eager to hear what the speakers had to say on the topic ‘Seeing things differently’. The first speakers were Caroline Lucas, former Green Party MP and ‘freedom from debt coalition Philippines’ campaigner Lindy Nacpil who spoke of the devastation caused to her home in Manilla. They both gave really inspiring speeches.

Dame Vivienne began her speech by describing how she had come up with the idea of sneaking her ‘Climate Revolution’ banner into the Paralympics closing ceremony. If you missed it, Vivienne arriving as Boudicca on a chariot, whipped off her gown, wearing  below tights over boxer shorts and chunky platform shoes, to reveal a hidden banner, the TV crew and organisers didn’t know what she had planned so her message was aired, what a success! Only Vivienne and her husband Andreas knew of the plan, they had to get her students to applique the banner in secret, without knowing what it was for. The letters were sewn on to the inside of a cloak dress which was 7ft long, it wrapped around Vivienne’s body like an elegant taffeta gown. Hidden pockets were sewn into the ends, so when her accomplices (Andreas and son Joe) inserted spears into them, Vivienne untied the ribbon under her chin and the cape was lifted into the air to form the banner. Smart, dramatic and with a prominent message.

“There are only two types of people in the world: Eco Warriors and idiots” Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne’s message is quite simple really, get people to stand up and listen, do something, even one thing to make a difference. She noted how young people like to have something to fight and rebel against, well maybe they can get rallied up and fight for something so worthwhile like this. You can read in depth about the Climate Revolution on Vivienne’s blog but in brief here are some easy things which you can do to make a difference:

How to join the Revolution

Many people are changing their way of living. The more this happens, the greater the Revolution, the greater the chance of saving our planet.

1) Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. “I never waste money I spend it”- Oscar Wilde. Maybe you’ll give a donation to an NGO or charity. You can give your support in other ways. Just by following one you will learn a lot, this is support.
2) Quality v Quantity
3) Buy less, choose well, make it last (we don’t want the “latest thing” just for the sake of it.)
4) Prepare and cook your own food.
5) Cut out plastic.
6) Inform yourselves.
7) Consider the responsibility of not having or having children. Chances of survival will be clearer by next Olympics.
8) Take an active part in events of the Revolution as it starts to build.
9) Engage in art and culture.
10) Your own idea.

- Vivienne Westwood

There are other small things you can do such as turn off unnecessary lights, pick out the fruit and veg in the supermarket which doesn’t come wrapped in plastic. The plastic thing really get’s me, during my work I have carried out analytical chemistry on the effects of plastic wrappings on organic museum objects and just having something in a plastic bag over night allows plasticizers to contaminate. It doesn’t necessarily do you any harm so far as we know but just the thought of it I find very scary.

After the rally Vivienne had to rush off, I was disappointed not having chance to ask her a few questions. But luck must have been on my side as I bumped into her int he bathroom! Thank you Vivienne for taking the time to have a chat with me when you were so busy. I happened to be wearing my beloved Gaia tree dress which I got in the sale, it has the family tree that Vivienne drew on the front. It represents out world, what happens when Mother Earth marries Science, they have two children Quantity and Quality, which are represented as the right and left branches of the tree. When Quantity marries Progress however they produce unlimited Profit and unlimited Consumption and lead to disaster. We need to shift the balance back to Quality and Stability. The back of the dress shows a map of the world and the parts of it which will become uninhabitable if the climate is raised by +5 degrees, these countries are listed on the skirt – it is food for thought. I changed my own habits a long time ago, I stopped shopping for cheap, bad quality clothes which I would do on a weekly basis only to still be left dissatisfied. Now I save up for less, well made things be it designer or a charity shop find. I also recycle clothes on eBay and donating them. You don’t have to change your entire life to help the environment, but just changing one small thing can really make a huge impact. Vivienne uses her power as a celebrity fashion designer to give her voice a platform, she infuses her fashion with her messages and slogans.

Here I am wearing the ‘Gaia Tree dress’, pink suede boots and accessories of beaded ‘Africa’ collection clutch bag and ‘AR’ cap, all Vivienne Westwood.

One last word, Vivienne asked me to tell you. It would be her ‘honour and pleasure if you could read her blog Vivienne Get A Life

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12 Responses to The Climate Revolution

  • Fantastic blog post. Great message! So awesome you got to meet VW. We don’t think about sustainability and that will be our civilization’s greatest downfall…we can’t continue on the path we are headed.

  • Wonderful post Pearl! And what a fascinating conference. I never knew all that symbolism was behind VWs Gaia tree design. I think the tide genuinely is turning and people are realising the error of their ways with regards to wasteful spending on junk. Lets face it we all want our cash to go further these days so quality over quantity makes far more sense. In a way I think rapant consumerism needed a good slap in the face with prolonged economic uncertainty to force people to question if they really need to buy any more stuff! Going to send you a link via email too.

  • I really like that she’s doing this but I always have mixed feelings about her doing this as a brand but not talking about how the brand is contributing (using salvaged material, reducing waste, buying “greener” fabrics with less toxins/waste, etc.). It just seems like her brand hasn’t changed at all and her take on it is to buy quality, which I’m assuming means she also considers her brand quality and is therefore encouraging buying her brand – which seems like a conflict of interest with this platform. I’m glad she’s doing it but there are so many question marks that pop up for me regarding her platform and accountability. (It’s entirely possible I don’t know enough about her brand to know what efforts she’s making but you’d think she’d toot her horn about them and use her brand as an example for others vs just saying to buy it because it’s quality.)

    I agree with all of the points and also add in that in addition to all the little changes, looking for larger impact changes like regulation of manufacturing, materials used and waste management is also really important. It’s something I’d like to get better about. I do think you need both – the personal so you’re modeling decent behavior for others and keeping the focus on the big picture of environmental impact…and then also the efforts that will have the largest consequential impact in the manufactuing industry.

    Do you have any thoughts on the brand as it relates to her platform on climate change? I feel like if anyone would know, you would!

    • Actually Vivienne does practice what she preaches. Without going into the full history of her brand she doesn’t herself actually own most of the company it is owned by her Italian business partner who bought into the brand to make it into a business (I do have a post planned on this as I get asked a lot). So a lot of it is out of her hands and something she has struggled with but the majority of the merch is produced in Italy in very much above board conditions. The label which she does have full control over is Worlds End which is produced in her London studio, her Gold Label shoes are also hand made in England. The WE label is very ‘green’ it uses off cuts of fabric and designs from past season (you can read more about it here http://fashionpearlsofwisdom.co.uk/2012/09/all-about-vivienne-westwood-worlds-end.html). I actually went into the shop one day to find all the lights off, I asked had there been a power-cut? No just Vivienne trying to save energy! So it does annoy me when people try to call out Vivienne, you have to understand she does as much as she can but at the end of the day the company is so much bigger than her. If it was up to her I think she would gladly get rid of the lot and just keep WE. She has never been comfortable with her role in fashion, she says that a lot, but since she is who she is she does her best to campaign for what she believes is important. She is ambassador for woolmark and promotes its use in her collection and also supports and uses Harris Tweed. Then set up the Africa collection which enables tribes woman in Africa to make a range of accessories and earn a living for themselves which is pretty amazing I think. I’m sure there are other things too, will see what else I can find out.

  • Such wise worlds, I would like to buy more quality over quantity for sure, something I need to work on. Of late, I have been buying more second hand and less brand new…step in the right direction

    Sleekit x

  • Love this post. I really wished I could have gone to this conference and I love Vivienne’s message of ‘Buy less, choose well’ which kind of sums it the sustainability thing for me. I think she is a fantastic spokesperson for climate change and it is great to see someone from within the industry giving it such prominence. I too have stopped buying fast fashion and now only buy second hand, vintage and sustainable/ ethical labels.

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