Vivienne Westwood Ethical Kenyan Bags

Vivienne Westwood is often considered responsible for bringing modern punk into mainstream fashion, maybe now she can do the same for ethical fashion.

Vivienne Westwood has launched a new range of ethical bags for A/W ’11-’12. Previewed at trade show Pitti Uomo in Florence, the range is now available to buy online. Each bag is handmade in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Programme with the aim of supporting marginalised communities of women.

The result is a collection of travel, clutch, shopping and banana bags which retain Westwood’s signature punk-rock style but with the ethical provenance to shop guilt free. Not only are these bags supporting communities in a social way, but they are using local waste materials. Items such as roadside advertisement banners, safari tents and old clothes have been upcycled to produce these fashionable items.

Among the items is the weekender bag (pictured) made from recycled canvas with artisan golden metal orb and studs. It costs £200 and can be expanded to provide more space for travel essentials. There is also the eagle print shopper, lined with a patchwork of recycled clothing fabrics and with a leather tassel and handles for £155. Clutch bags are priced £140 and large banana are £200.

The Ethical Fashion Programme supports 7000 women who live in extreme poverty but want to improve their lives, both for themselves and their children. The Vivienne Westwood programme works with disadvantaged women who may be single mothers, widows or HIV/AIDs victims. The holistic approach put into practice gives these women access to jobs and an income so that they can afford school fees and medical care, as well as boosting their skills and confidence.

Vivienne Westwood has used her designs to make political and ethical statements in the past and previously expressed anti consumerist views which may seem a contradiction to selling luxury fashion. However she said that people should not buy more than they need and I do indeed think that luxury fashion encourages more thoughtful purchasing rather than the throw away culture that is encouraged on the High Street. She has also spoken about climate change, and supports various environmental actions.

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