10 ways designer Vivienne Westwood fights for change

Vivienne Westwood, the 73 year-old, orange-haired fashion icon, is one of the most anticipated speakers at the TEDxAmRing conference on May 30th in Vienna. Not only is she one of the world’s most important designers and influencers, Vivienne Westwood is also a political activist and fighter for environmental issues. „It’s a war,” she says. “It’s a war for the very existence of the human race. And that of the planet.”

Vivienne Westwood at TEDxAmRing Vienna

Westwood has a special relationship with Vienna: She has taught at the Angewandte university, where she met her husband, the Austrian Andreas Kronthaler, who was her student and is 25 years younger than her. She has also worked for the Wiener Burgtheater and keeps coming back to Vienna to attend the Life Ball or create the costumes for the Wiener Staatsballett.
Come see her on May 30th, alongside other inspirational speakers, when she talks about change worth fighting for at TEDxAmRing! She really knows what she’s talking about – here are 10 ways she has already fought for change: 

1. She invented punk.

Back in the 70s in London, Vivienne Westwood and her then-boyfriend, enfant terrible Malcolm McLaren, worked closely with the Sex Pistols. They were part of a non-conformist group and started the punk rock trend: Holes, safety pins, dog collars, studs and skulls became en vogue. Her tartan pattern „MacAndreas“ became Westwood’s signature style. Of course, when the trend turned into mainstream fashion, Vivienne Westwood turned her back on it. She hates mass production and ordinary fashion. “The more you consume, the less you think.”

2. She tells people to buy less.

In recent years, Vivienne Westwood has started her agenda against consumerism, especially for more sustainability in the fashion industry. “What I want people to be able to do is to buy well, by first choosing well and then making it last. And I also believe that if everyone wore just a few beautiful things, there would not be such a climate change problem,” she said.

3. She founded Climate Revolution.

This year, Vivienne Westwood announced she would focus on the fight against climate change and cut back on her fashion empire and its expansion. She wants to produce quality, not quantity, and make her company more efficient and self-sustaining – for the sake of the environment. The non-profit organisation Climate Revolution is based on her manifesto „Active resistance against propaganda“.

4. She fights for human rights and health.

As an ongoing supporter of the Life Ball in Vienna and its charity AIDS Life, Vivienne Westwood attended the first Life Ball in 1993 and has been a designer and guest ever since. She will be there again this year!

5. She supports animal rights.

After she found out about the ways animals get tortured for fashion from PETA, Westwood stopped using fur for her designs in 2007. She also got her feet wet for PETA: In a video clip, you can watch her take a shower while she talks about being a vegetarian. Watch it here:

6. She protests against fracking.

In March 2014, Vivienne Westwood led the Fracked Future march in London. Hundreds of protesters marched through London behind her and gathered in front of the Shale Gas Forum to take a stand against the controversial drilling process. She also visited the Balcombe anti-fracking protest camp and blamed David Cameron for his „outrageous“ support of fracking.

7. She supports Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Westwood declared her support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the London Fashion Week 2012, wearing a T-Shirt with the slogan „I am Julian Assange“, and even visited him at the embassy where he was living at that time. All profits from the sale of the T-shirts went towards WikiLeaks.


8. She helps protect the rain forest.

Westwood has donated 1 million pounds to Cool Earth in 2011 and then took a trip to the rain forest in Peru to make sure the money was put to good use. Cool Earth gave the donations to the village folks, so that they wouldn’t have to earn money by cutting down and selling trees. Westwood still designs shirts for Cool Earth and is their most committed supporter. 

9. She wants to Save the Arctic.

Westwood has not only supported Greenpeace with the design of T-shirts for the Arctic, but also teamed up with them for the campaign Save the Arctic with Jerry Hall, George Clooney, Chris Martin and more celebrities. She also joined the demonstration to free the Arctic 30 in London. 

10. She thinks ecocide should be a crime.

The organisation End Ecocide wants to establish an EU law to declare environmental destruction a crime. Individuals, for example managers of large corporations, could be held accountable for environmental damage and be fined or even sent to prison. Vivienne Westwood supports the cause and wants to raise 1 million signatures for the petition. Sign here!

Fighting for change for 4 decades

The fashion designer turned environmentalist also supports other charities like 21st Century LeadersamfARBeating the BombOxfamSmall Steps ProjectSurvival International and Whatever It Takes.

So, can you imagine her knowledge about fighting for change? Vivienne Westwood has done so for over 40 years and will talk about it at the TEDxAmRing conference at the Hofburg Vienna on May 30th. Get your tickets now for only 79 or 39 Euros, space is limited! Drinks, cool people and networking are included 😉

Header image credits: Royalty free

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