Little attention has been given to the ethics of fashion consumption despite the often trenchant critique of the fashion industry for intensifying cycles of production, consumption, and disposal and encouraging in consumers a superficial sense of identity and the good life through apparel. In this article, we suggest that although relationships with clothes are not often explicitly stated as “being ethical,” the capacity to be ethical can pervade the buying and wearing of clothes. We focus on the fashion designer, environmental campaigner, and critic of consumption Vivienne Westwood and those who consume her clothing. Using a single case study approach (combining interview data, participant observation, internal and external documents, and literature), we examine the ethical potential of consuming fashion. We show how ethics in consumption is a critical engagement with how products such as clothes are bought and used, and understanding the value of the products we choose to buy. Consumers find themselves personally implicated with and caring for a designer’s work and become responsible for reflecting on their own consumption decisions rather than cheaply satisfying immediate desires.
- Vivienne Westwood