Tuesday, 24 July 2012

This is Britain: Vivienne Westwood

The eyes of the world focus on London this week for the opening of the Olympic Games. The capital will be busy and museums and places of interest expect record numbers of visitors. The UK is a cultural hotspot from the Shetland and Orkney Isles in the north to Cornwall in the south as generations of inventive Britons battled with the land and climate to survive and flourish. As an island we have had to be even more creative to engage with the rest of Europe and the world to trade and compete. The result is that, as a nation, we produce some of the most influential artists and designers the world has seen. We have explored undiscovered continents, designed and engineered railways, bridges and road systems all over the world. We have invented early telephone, television and communication systems and exported design talent to help other countries develop their own ideas.

For hundreds of years in fashion, we have pushed concepts forward and brought concepts home to build one of the greatest fashion and textile industries in the world. We dominated this field for centuries, exporting high quality fabrics garments to all the developed nations. Sadly decimated now, our fashion and textile manufacturing heritage survives in museums as a direct result of the 'quick fix' consumer society. However, there are early signs that all is not well in China and the BRICAM economies are faltering, saturated and tired of a flooded market. Small fashion businesses and independant makers can do very well during a recession as the markets alter.

The future of our UK fashion industry will rely, as it has always done, on innovation, creativity, technology and now the influence of the digital age. Quality production is the key issue to debate with the consumer who has been 'educated' out of buying 'local'.

Here is Dame Vivienne Westwood, a staunch Briton and sustainable campaigner, spending valuable research time in museums. I urge all fashion students to do the same during term time and holiday downtime. Think about the future and how your contribution can help revive our fashion industry. As DVW says, ' It is about spirit'. Enjoy.

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