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wise up earthling! vivienne westwood's store worlds end, is a valuable lesson in sustainability

Vivienne Westwood knows that seasonal trends come and go, but style is eternal. Her World’s End Collection offers iconic pieces from the Westwood archive reworked in new fabrics, cuts and colours. Forget fast fashion, this is all about clothing with soul.

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Perched on the corner of 430 Kings Road is Vivienne Westwood’s Worlds End boutique, a historical landmark since 1970, and a point of pilgrimage for Westwood fans the world over. Worlds End has survived four incarnations – ‘Let it Rock’, ‘Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Seditionaires’ – before settling on ‘Worlds End’ in 1980, the name still in place today.

“Worlds End holds a very special place in the history of British fashion,” Vivienne tells i-D over the phone from her Battersea HQ, not only because of the flair with which it has held court on London’s ever metamorphosing Kings Road, but because of its refreshing two fingers up to the relentless fashion week schedule too.

“Vivienne Westwood is a real punk, a real genius and a real woman. It’s as important as ever to embody the Westwood spirit. Dress like a pirate, shave your head, go commando and start a revolution!” Lily McMenamy

Worlds End Collection is built on Vivienne’s belief that good design never goes out of style. Stocked exclusively in her Chelsea boutique, it sees Vivienne rework iconic Westwood designs such as the bondage trousers, pirate tops, buffalo hats and political slogan T-shirts into desirable classics for the new generation. Vivienne dubs Worlds End “clothes for heroes”, but there’s more to it than that. Worlds End is a valuable lesson in sustainability, and a new way of approaching – and perhaps even breaking - the cyclic nature of the fashion industry. “Today we are trained as consumers and not thinking,” Vivienne says. “Worlds End has always been a crucible for my ideas, political and cultural. It’s timeless fashion. We recycle fabrics and cuts and sell them for the best price possible in order to be affordable to as many people as possible.” By reissuing classic designs – sensitively updated in new prints and colourways – Vivienne has removed the cost of development, ensuring the garments, jewellery and accessories are more accessible to a new generation of Westwood fans that may or may not be able to afford pieces from the mainline. “We use up our leftover fabrics so there’s no waste,” Vivienne continues. The store also stocks original Worlds End boxers, towels, political badges and artwork. But it’s not all nostalgic; new designs from the Gold Label collection are adapted for a new price point too. “We never have a sale,” Vivienne informs. It’s your responsibility as a fashion fan and consumer to “buy less, choose well and make it last.”

“Fast fashion” may be a dirty word in Vivienne’s vocabulary, but it has become an increasing reality on the world’s catwalks. With the industry moving faster than ever before, and click to buy an unavoidable reality, we’ve been trained to consume whatever is thrown at us with an unquenchable appetite. But what if the clothes on the runways demanded a longer lifespan than they are given? What if that dress you fell in love with, that jacket you saved so hard for, never really went out of style?

“Today we are trained as consumers and not thinking. Worlds End has always been a crucible for my ideas, political and cultural. It’s timeless fashion. We recycle fabrics and cuts and sell them for the best price possible in order to be affordable to as many people as possible.” Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne believes it is a possibility. “It’s no good to just go to a supermarket and come back with bags and bags of cheap T-shirts,” she says. “All this consumption is not a real choice. Andreas once said to me that if everyone just bought beautiful things that they thought about and really loved, then maybe we wouldn’t have this problem of Climate Change. Beware of propaganda,” she continues. “Its greatest evil is non-stop-distraction. A head full of rubbish can’t discriminate between truth and lies and will suck up anything that gives a buzz.” Lily McMenamy shares Vivienne’s revolutionary spirit and agrees something in the industry, and the ways in which we approach buying and consuming fashion, has to change. “Vivienne is a real punk, a real genius and a real woman,” Lily says. “Now it’s more important than ever to embody the Westwood spirit. Dress like a pirate, shave your head, go commando and start a revolution!”

So rather than hankering after the next new thing, what does the Grand Dame of British Fashion suggest? “Read, go to art galleries, find out the names of trees and birds, study the past,” Vivienne instructs. “I now realise that climate change is the most urgent problem the human race has ever faced. Everything is connected and climate change is connected to lack of culture. You get out what you put in. So get a life.”