Vivienne Darling…

by jennine on October 5, 2007

Vivienne Westwood thinks we should stop buying clothes. Bits and bobbins posted a very interesting article from the Telegraph UK. Vivienne explains her viewpoints on fashion today…

“There’s this idea that somehow you’ve got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they’d get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked.” ~ Vivienne Westwood

I hear that… there are many times where I like something for a moment… discard it, like ‘what was I thinking?’. Yesterday, I was waiting for a friend to go to this exhibition. It was right next to H&M… I used to go every week, $100 here $50 there… etc. Yesterday I bought a whole lot of accessories on an impluse, it was strange. After leaving I felt really bad… I didn’t need any of that stuff… and most of it would fall apart in a month anyway…

The Telegraph UK writes:

In Britain, we’re spending £38.4 billion a year on clothes. Pushing ourselves into debt and chucking our cast-offs into landfill, we’d be hard pushed to demonstrate that, as a result of this spending, we look any better.

I love how snarky the British can be… and it’s true, not just for them, but for all of us. I notice since writing my No Sweat post way back in August, I haven’t bought anything from H&M, not that H&M in particular utilizes sweatshops, but it was when I decided to be more mindful of what I consumed, trying to be more eco-friendly by buying recycled, independent designed, sweat-free or eco-friendly clothing only. Even with those parameters, I’m still able to put a big dent in my bank account shopping… but at least it’s a small step.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about consumerism and personal style. Things seem to be moving so fast in particularly if you are involved with blogging. Heck, magazines struggle to keep up… and what does this all mean? Am I too optimistic by saying that, the more I’m exposed to the more I’m able to find clothing that expresses my personal style? The more I’ll be inspired? Perhaps… lest I become a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl:

Effortless style – jeans with everything – so sought after these days, is not a look Westwood aims for, and nor, she thinks, should we.

“Why do people think that if you don’t dress up, others will appreciate your beauty more – that style will somehow emanate from you? It’s rubbish. If you dress up it helps your personality to emerge – if you choose well.” ~ Vivienne Westwood

Photo taken from one of my favorite musems in London, the ICA…

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WendyB October 5, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Considering some of the the things I was writing about Vivienne lately, I’m going to just keep my mouth shut about her rant against buying things, because that irritates me. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree with what she said about dressing up. BTW, who the hell are these people throwing CLOTHES into a landfill? Is this some H&M-related behavior that I’m not familiar with? I wear my clothes till they disintegrate, go to consignment store (serious designers), to the thrift store (less serious designers) or inherited by my stepdaughter/friend’s kid (whatever intrigued them). I don’t know when I’ve actually thrown something in the garbage unless it was a very foul gym-related item. Hi Mothra.

jennine October 5, 2007 at 12:43 pm

oh gosh… i guess you would feel differntly if you had spent the past year on some ‘shopping to fill the hole in my soul’ binge. i’m in trouble with bills… well, i’d like to not be in as deep as i am…. and for what?

in that.. i think what i’m talking about is the disposable clothes that don’t hold up and can’t be given to charity, and at one point, they do end up in the landfill, you may not actually put them there, but the clothing that can’t be sold….that’s where it goes.

all i am saying is that i personally am trying to change the way i consume. it’s not going to make me a better person, and i just want to be more careful then the way i was doing so before. because i’ve had to get rid of so many of my H&M and F21 clothes because they just don’t age well… and they look terrible after time. it sucks when i look at my credit card statement…

WendyB October 5, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Well, I agree that getting into debt is a bad thing, and I would never recommend it! It’s good that you’re trying to get out of that. You’ll do it! I have faith. I didn’t realize you had a tough year.

Sorry that I’m out of the loop on these things, but I’ve walked into an H&M exactly once and walked out. I’ve never been into a F21 store. I really have only had exposure to that through the fashion bloggers, and they make everything look great because the bloggers themselves are so stylish. You can tell from the business I’m in that I just don’t do disposable fashion. I would rather spend my money on one great thing than 100 things that go in the garbage.

I can actually remember one of my first big purchases…in 1994 I scraped up $300 (plus tax!!!) to buy a pair of Prada shoes. (Isn’t it hysterical that they were $300?! Ha ha! That’s a bargain now.) I wore those same shoes twice this week. I’m not kidding!

To make a long story longer, if you’re saying a scary disposable culture is going on behind my back, I agree that it’s bad! Bad! Everyone should save their money for the good stuff! :-)

WendyB October 5, 2007 at 1:06 pm

P.S. One disposable thing that I DESPISE is electronics. They are totally designed to fall apart after two years. I’m convinced of that, and think it’s evil.

jennine October 5, 2007 at 1:17 pm

yes… well, you have excellent pieces in your wardrobe… i can tell that you put thought into what you want. and that’s how i hope to be.

there is that adage…

buy less, spend more

i’m not really there yet, but i’d like to be there soon. i just love clothes so much. and the more i love them, the harder it is to buy crappy quality clothing.

so we’ll see.

thank you for commenting so candidly!

also, i hate disposable electronics! argh!

WendyB October 5, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Don’t even get me started about iPods. I get all crazy. ;-P

Allure October 5, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I applaud Vivienne Westwood for saying that. I completely agree with her. But at the time, I am student, and I can’t spend all the money I want in a piece of clothing even if I save money.

And I am with you and wendyb about the electronics thing. I bought an i-pod mini, and after two years it broke down. Just after the guaranty expired…

Mothra October 5, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Mothra shed his pupae. He also wants more blog-tributes from others but especially from Wendy B.

WendyB October 5, 2007 at 5:41 pm

BWAH! You know, Mothra, now that I wrote about you I have Godzilla and Rodan nagging me all day long. Dang!

The Stiletto Effect October 5, 2007 at 5:41 pm

I also agree with Vivienne Westwood!

Bojana October 6, 2007 at 10:58 am

I agree but I think it’s a bit of ironic that a fashion designer says that…

BUT, Viv is not some random fashion designer.

I also think I’ve got too much clothes. I decided not to buy anthing for this fall…I can do it!! HAH

Princess Poochie October 6, 2007 at 3:42 pm

I too need to seriously reconsider my spending. I think I’ve gotten a little out of hand and I know that part of it is, as you say, trying to fill an emotional hole. Mine is two-fold: 1) I’m working my butt off and buying becomes a form of relaxation and a reward and 2)presenting myself as “fashion forward”. The latter can be hard and expensive to maintain and I’m not even in an area where the people I know will appreciate it.

I like the things I get but as I become more involved in writing about them, I become more convinced I “need” them. I’m going to try and change my perspective that by writing about them I don’t need to own them. They are “mine” virtually.

Does that make any sense?


Bobble Bee October 6, 2007 at 7:05 pm

I’m reading this amazing autobiography of Cecil Beaton that in some way some of the things I’m learning are related to this post. People back in the days knew about clothing and appreciate the quality of it more than we do. They bought less but they bought better.
Women knew how to sew and arrange their own (and their men’s) garments and that gave them the knowledge of a pro; in comparison we are mere amateurs.
I think we spend too much money in way too much garbage (I’m the first one) and we forget the real deal which is wearing good quality and better designs.
This way we are becoming somewhat ignorants about clothing, we are also not encouraging new designers to create original pieces using the best fabrics in the market and H&M and the like are taking advantage of it.

riz October 6, 2007 at 10:20 pm

i like consignment shopping because you can get amazing things that have aged well. sometimes this is good, like coats. For ex: I did recently get on consignment, a pair of costume national black flats for $25. They were perfect brand new. I wish gorgeous smart clothes were affordable - the closes we get to that always has to have that taint of mass production…

lemon emlyn October 7, 2007 at 7:26 am

In the couple of months I have been reading blogs, I have felt the need to buy,buy, buy to keep up with the trends. It’s true that blogs move faster through trends then any other tool in the fashion world. I think that Vivienne has a valid point, stop buying clothes. Last year I decided to swear off cheap trendy stores and I would end up spending my money on one well made article of clothing that I’ll probably last 20 years rather then on three crappy pieces that willl fall apart and go out of style within months. What works against me is that we don’t have many high end, quality clothing stores where I live. I think that if we went back to the old ways, where our clothing articles weren’t made overseas in China, and rather locally, in the long run would be better for everyone. Enviromentally and economically.

It’s just a huge marketing ploy, make things cheaply so that we’ll all end up buying more then we needed, and these coorporations are just sucking the soul out of us.

Trendini October 7, 2007 at 10:52 am

Jenine! You could not have been more dead on with what I was feeling and thinking: “Am I too optimistic by saying that, the more I’m exposed to the more I’m able to find clothing that expresses my personal style?” I am blogging pretty much on a daily basis. I check out the celebs are wearing on an hourly basis. Granted, the fact that you are “in the know” gives you the ability to blog about various areas of fahsion and trends, but I do feel it is a double edged sword: always being exposed to clothing, fashion trends, only makes me want to purchase more. And in a way, I feel lucky as I am, like you mentioned: “developping my personal style”. but have I really when it takes me forever to get ready to go out only to be unhappy with what I am finally wearing??… I have started to wonder why my closet has such a high turnouver rate…it does not seem right. And I am constantly testing myself: how long can I go without making a purchase? It does not last long, trust me. This need, this drive to want more, only to realize in the end, you have nothing to wear and that personal style you thought you had so keenly developped really is non existant… And the irony in all this: I always feel I look the best with a white t shirt, jeans and a great accessory. go figure. Great post and I loved the topic! My mission, to be honest, is to not shop for a month…can it be done? Knowing me, if I do accomplish it, I will only reward myself with a brand new H&M wardrobe! I think I need a new hobby…
PS: love the blog!

WendyB October 7, 2007 at 1:21 pm

@ Lemon, I agree that I would love to have more things made locally (though of course I’m not dead set against things being made overseas because I believe more financial opportunity helps foster individual freedoms). The problem is people say that they would love to support a local economy and that they would pay more for it, but in reality, people fight you over every damn penny. The standard of living in the US is, thankfully, very high and costs are very high as a result. Much, much higher than most consumers probably anticipate. I get nickel-and-dimed to death every day. It’s exhausting.

mahret October 7, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Wow. Hello? This seems to be a very sensitive topic huh? Well my opinion/experiences: Since I graduated from university im constantly broke and simply can’t afford buying clothes. No extensive H&M, ZARA or Mango shopping tours anymore, which feels.. fantastic! My closet had never been better structured (I sold most of the stuff on ebay recently…)! I’m really working on my personal style, thinking of what really suits me and what style I want to go for each season. I have a shopping list and work on it. I bought a pair of boots for around 350$ last month. I really had to save money for that, but I don’t regret it at all. I was able to buy them because I didn’t spend stuff on H&M for ages and they are perfect, most smoothly leather and I will wear them for years… The clothes I buy now are far more expensive and partly designer clothes, but I really think about my investments and buy what really suits me and my style.
Blogging really helped me focus. Although I’m confronted with new fantastic designers and styles every day, I learned to sort out…

jennine October 7, 2007 at 8:44 pm

oh my gosh, there are some really fantastic well thought out comments here, which i have really taken to heart..

@patricia… you know that’s really interesting, my grandmother made most of her own clothes, and she still wears a lot of them even though she had to give up sewing a decade ago, there are some really fantastic pieces in her wardrobe, and something of a unique style.

@poochie… i went through the same thing when i first started blogging, now it’s subsided a little bit, as you see trends come and go quickly… i’m still going through it… like now i ‘have to have’ the american apparel mini skirt…. it’s cute.

@riz… good find! i usually end up getting ferragamos for the same reason.. actually, this is probably the likely direction i’m heading in at the moment… consignment rules!
@trendini… your comment makes perfect sense… i keep trying to see how long i can go, so far it’s only two weeks… argh.

maret… did you post these boots the over the knee ones? i’m curious to see some of your purchases.. but yeah, i’m thinking of doing the same thing in terms of quality….

: )

Ondo Lady October 8, 2007 at 3:27 am

This is so funny that Vivienne Westwood has said this because now that shorts are in I am now thinking about the lovely pair of shorts that I gave away a long while ago. I really regret it and now I will store all my clothes in the loft. I agree that people buy way too many clothes and those that get into debt from shopping really need to sit down and have a good look at their selves I like my clothes and I even like shopping but I also like being in the black a lot more. When I bought my house I was really broke and that taught me how to live on a budget. I read a book called The Money Diet by Martin Lewis and he gave a few tips:

Before you buy something, think about whether you need it or whether you just want it.
Always look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

I also find reality shows about people who have got into debt by trying to live a life they cannot afford very fascinating. So many people who shop compulsively do it not because they want the items but because of the buzz they get when they are at the counter, walking out of the shop with the fancy bag and placing the stuff in their wardrobe. However that feeling wears off so they go shopping again. I am about to read a book called Bonfire of the Brands by Neil Boorman where he talks about his addiction to buying brands till he decided enough was enough and decided to kick the habit. This is his diary.

atelier October 8, 2007 at 6:00 am

I guess every fashion lover is an “addict” in some moment of her life. It is very difficult to say “ok, I have enough clothes, I don’t need it” because honestly, in Europe or the US fortunately we don’t need anything. Probably, all of us could live the next decade with the clothes we have in our wardrobes, even if they are not cool or fashionable any more, but we’d have something to wear.
After watching a documentary about Africa, I don’t dare any more to say “I need this jeans, or whatever”, and I am able to recognize that I am buying it because I like them, and because I want them, not because I need them.

About the high quality garments discussion, I feel when I would be working I would do that, but now that I am student and my parents are not rich, I have two options: buy some garments from Zara, Mango, and being able to wear cool clothes, or buy one Chanel bag, or Ferragamo shoes, and that’s old in the whole season. I would like to be able, but I am not, I need to buy more than one thing in six months!

Sara October 9, 2007 at 7:49 am

really good post. good job

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