Vivienne Westwood is a luxury design brand that prides itself on educating about sustainability They produce men and women’s luxury items with punk designs. One of Vivienne Westwood’s biggest goals is to halt overconsumption by making quality clothing that will last a lifetime. This idea is incorporated into their marketing strategy. By spreading this message, Vivienne Westwood hopes that people will think more about their purchasing garments to avoid overconsumption. However, it is easy for the average person to avoid overconsumption of this brand since their pieces are outrageously priced (over $1000 for some tops! And around $200 for jewelry pieces).
Vivienne Westwood has been collaborating with Greenpeace since 2015 on several environmental campaigns. Over the last 20 years Vivienne has campaigned and fundraised for the Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International, and War Child, amongst many other grassroots charities and campaigns. On the outside, this brand seems to be a leader in sustainability - and I truly believe that Vivienne Westwood is trying to make an effort to be more sustainable. However, when you take a closer look, the materials they use and the labor practices may not be up to par in the sustainability realm. With a lot of sustainable goals, Vivienne Westwood needs to be more transparent and give a lot more updates about its sustainability progress.
Vivienne Westwood is explicit about the types of materials that are used on the sustainability page of the website. Vivienne Westwood uses leather which is very environmentally taxing to manufacture. However, this company vows not to use any leather from endangered species (which is important) and to treat their animals with principles listed on the website. Some of these principles include freedom from hunger and thirst and freedom from discomfort. Isn’t this the bare minimum? Vivienne Westwood even states “It is our suppliers’ responsibility to ensure that all animal derived materials are sourced, processed and manufactured in accordance with these principles and suppliers should be able to provide evidence demonstrating their compliance when required.” When required??? There is no evidence on their website that the suppliers are treating the animals properly. Additionally, Vivienne Westwood mentions that, “We are increasing the use of leather that is processed using environmentally friendly dyeing and tanning techniques; chrome-free and vegetable tanned.” However, there is no description of this “environmentally friendly” process.
96% of the cotton jersey they currently produce is made from certified organic yarns and are working to increase this to 100%. They claim that they are committed to using organic cotton shirting made from certified organic yarns in 80% of our production by 2020. They are also actively researching and sourcing the latest sustainable fabric innovations like Coir (coconut fiber), Nettle, Lenzing Modal & Tencel. Additionally, they have increased the use of fabrics such as hemp, which naturally reduces pests, controls erosion of topsoil, produces oxygen and uses less water in cultivation. How much of these sustainable fabrics are actually being incorporated into their pieces? While there are some important sustainable guidelines and movements for the use of more sustainable materials, there needs to be more evidence that these guidelines are actually being enforced.
On the Vivienne Westwood website it states that “ In 2018, we initiated a chemicals improvement process with Greenpeace Detox supporter, Texmoda Tessuti who are taking measures to eliminate all the hazardous substances from production by 2020.” Has this goal been met? The lack of updates leads me to believe that Vivienne Westwood is not fully committed to sustainability. However, they give preference to low-impact dyeing and finishing techniques and use GOTS certified dyeing and processing where possible, in their silk supply chain for example. The GOTS certification is a worldwide and complete certification in terms of evaluation of organic fibers, integrating social and environmental aspects. It independently certifies all stages of the textile production chain. How often are these more sustainable processes given preference? Additionally, their dyeing and processing is done in compliance with REACH and we take guidance from REACH for a Restricted Substances List (as a minimum). REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals. Additionally, they are eliminating all single-use plastic from transit packaging and use shredded cards made from used boxes for protective inner packaging. We are working to change our plastic hangers and polythene garment covers to more sustainable alternatives. All of these sustainable practices make their “How it’s made score” high. Vivienne Westwood seems to want to take important steps to make their supply chain more sustainable. However, there needs to be more transparency. There needs to be more recent updates about the goals that they have on their sustainability page. Since Vivienne Westwood is not transparent about how often these sustainable practices are being carried out, their score cannot get too high in this category.
In terms of labor practices, Vivienne Westwood boasts about how they pay men and women the same amount of money. Vivienne Westwood states on their sustainability page, “We promote equal opportunities for women and men at every level of the Group. While we support diversity in all its forms, we are particularly committed to gender equality in the workplace.” This should be the bare minimum in 2022. I had to do some digging to find their labor code of conduct. Vivienne Westwood has a labor code of conduct that states how employees are being treated. However, this code of conduct only outlines the bare minimum of how workers should be treated. For example, one line states, “hours of work shall comply with legally mandated work hours and shall not exceed 48 hours per week. They should be given one day off for every 7 day period on average.” Additionally, there is a guarantee that child labor is not being used to make the codes. Vivienne Westwood states that manufacturers have to abide by these rules. How does Vivienne Westwod ensure that their factories follow these rules? Suppliers only have to provide written confirmation that their workers are being treated fairly. This makes it very easy for suppliers to lie and treat workers unfairly. Vivienne Westwood needs to give more details about their suppliers and ensure that all their workers are being treated fairly.