Thursday, 20 September 2012

London Fashion Week: Don't Buy These Clothes

Vivienne Westwood took the remarkable step of asking people not to buy her clothes at London Fashion Week. It's a message that many of the budget pressured, fashionistas long to hear. But how realistic is it to smash the fashion industries money-making process and encourage more people to buy less?

Dame Westwood is arguably one of Britain's fashion design icons and all round success stories. While others may be dubious of her using LFW to promote her environment causes, I applaud her backbone. She is one of haute couture's elite with a thriving business built on her own vision but not afraid to get on her soapbox. But you can't tell me the rest of the industry (think Zoolander's mysterious panel of fake money-grabbing designers which I'm convinced exists somewhere) are going to jump on board?

Firstly, it's these very fashion designers juicy advertising revenue which funds the magazines that tell 'the fashion followers' what to wear. The marketing machine behind fashion and beauty products is intricate and self-serving, the results are lucrative. In order to keep profits stable, a turnover of ideas and products must surely be essential. Which in turn encourages many of us to buy more, something different, each week, each day.

Of course Dame Westwood is trying to encourage a revolution from said 'fashion followers'. To my mind, that's where the change to more eco-friendly clothes shopping habits has got to happen. In many ways, those who have been forced to economise during this recession have already stopped acquiring new garments. In the last few years we've seen sales in sewing machines increase, as well as wool and jewellery making accessories. People are turning to clothes swapping parties, charity shops, eBay and Freegle to meet their needs. In fact, without the disposable income I've been used to since becoming self-employed, it's been quite cathartic to hold back on impulse shopping. I realised it was the acquisition of new stuff that was giving me the buzz rather than the item itself. 

All in all, I feel the message is going to be hard to swallow coming from the fashion elite unless the whole industry changes. Bring me a magazine that talks more about style and almost nothing about shopping, then I think we've got a start.


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