The Vogue Festival – Can Fashion Change the World?

Can Fashion Change the World? Is a question that is frowned up on by many non-fashionistas and some fashionistas alike. It is a topic of much criticism and debate, something that was proved at Saturday morning’s panel at the Vogue Festival. The diverse panel, made up of “Queen of Green” Livia Firth, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hammett, Louis Vuitton collaborator Tom Craig and Vogue features director Jo Ellison discussed the rise of “Green Fashion” but also corporate social responsibility in the light of the factory collapse in Bangladesh on Wednesday.


Jo Ellison, features director for Vogue, tried to control the debate but the fiery panel charged ahead regardless of objections, leaving no time for audience questions. Vivien Westwood once again proved that she is a woman of many talents and interjected her opinion on more than one occasion. Westwood and Katherine Hamnett spoke out against the Bangladesh disaster, stating that brands have a duty of care to the workers who produce their goods. Livia Firth in particular stated that people had to “take ethics into account when buying clothes” but also pointing out that “fashion can change the world one wardrobe at a time.” The issue of ethics and corporate social responsibility turned out to be an overarching theme during almost all the talks on Saturday. During a later talk between Paul Smith and Alexa Chung, Smith clearly stated, “responsibility lies with the actual manufacturers.” Like many of the events at the Vogue Festival, Can Fashion Change the World? would have benefited from more time than the mere 45 minutes assigned. However, the panellists’ passion showed that there is a clear desire, from some of the industry titans, to discuss important issues such as this.


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