Last year I was thrown into the deep end by attending a Vivienne Westwood showcase, with fashion being a subject I knew little about. I learnt a great deal about the Viv attitude and the ethical campaigns that her brand promotes. This year I returned to the Liverpool outlet with my partner for another exclusive event, courtesy of Store Manager Chris Griffiths. This time it was a ‘Handmade with Love in Kenya’ Artisan Fashion event, where the emphasis was on bags that have been hand made by people from marginalised communities — providing them with the opportunity to improve their lives by making bags from recycled materials.
As with the previous event, the hospitality from Chris and his team was unrivalled and once again guests were treated to a lavish offering of food and drink. Liverpool’s Bar & Grill venue again provided delightful canapes and cocktails — all vegan and vegetarian and this time with African themed twists. We sampled interesting food such as bunny chow and drank in style, whilst being shown the collection and mingling with the interesting attendees. Liverpool based gift shop, Mi Vida, supplied the fabulous bouquets of flowers.
The African hand made bags on display were quirky and fascinating — each with their own unique style. Chris explained how marginalised communities of women, such as single mothers, widows, HIV/AIDS victims and those living in extreme poverty, made the bags by hand. The bags have been produced since 2010 in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) of the International Trade Centre – a joint body of the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – which currently supports the work of thousands of women micro-producers from marginalized African communities. The EFI empowers informal manufacturers and craftspeople to enter the international value chain – providing an income for some of the poorest people in the world. This promotes the growth of sustainable business in place of aid dependency and creates stability among these impoverished communities.
Of all the bags on display, one in particular was my favourite. Although not part of this particular collection, I discovered one towards the back of the store that captured my eye — one with a funky design and a ‘Call Me’ logo on. Chris explained that, as I presumed, it was inspired by Debbie Harry. Chris explained that both Vivienne Westwood and Debbie Harry have been involved in the Save The Bees campaign and in fact Blondie’s recent album is called Pollinator. The bag was designed to promote the campaign and there is rumour that Dame Westwood gave Debbie Harry bee ear rings and a necklace.
The evening at the Vivienne Westwood store was a great success and it was interesting to learn more about the ethical campaigns that the company is involved in. It’s very refreshing to see a well known up market brand thoroughly active in giving something back and trying to make the world a better place. Although, as I discovered last time, Vivienne Westwood is much more than just a brand — it’s an attitude, a style and a way of life. It’s about expression, individuality and standing up for what is right. Thanks for having us again, Viv, keep up the good work!
Vivienne Westwood Liverpool
8 Mathew Street
Open: Mon- Sat 10am – 6pm, Sunday, 12pm — 5pm
Tel: 0151 227 2700
Images courtesy of Amanda Toovey